Garner council members made a wise decision last week not to charge admission to a planned new dog park.
First of all, dogs don’t have any money.
But seriously, the council’s decision is a good one because charging an admission fee, regardless of its size, is a turnoff for taxpayers who have already committed themselves to paying extra taxes just to build the park.
And as the park comes on line, the town wants to do all it can to attract residents (and their dogs) to the facility. That means making it easy to access the facility. Free is always easier than pulling out the billfold and plunking down a few dollars. It’s also important to remember that residents have plenty of free places to walk their dogs in neighborhoods throughout town. Granted those opportunities don’t give the dog a chance to run as free as it might like, but those of us who watch each dollar will likely always settle for a free option over one that costs us some of our hard-earned dough.
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Keeping the dog park free also is in line with other pedestrian services the town offers. There are no tolls for using sidewalks or crosswalks. The town doesn’t charge for people to visit other town parks and the town only charges when a resident wants to make use of a facility for their own exclusive use.
As time goes on, council members may choose to revisit the issue. If maintenance becomes a long-term issue, town leaders may have no choice but to require a payment for the use of the facility. But by allowing people to use the resource now for free, there is also an opportunity to develop a loyal customer base that will likely still want to use the park even after a fee is applied.