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County adopts parks and trails policies

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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The Mason County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal to create special events policies for Mason County Parks and Trails Tuesday.

The county previously had no official policies on special events, said John Keates, director of Mason County Parks and Trails.

"We wanted to make sure we covered the direct costs for events, safe guarded our assets and property and made sure that the event sponsor was concerned about safety," Keates said in an email.

The policy defines a special event as a temporary activity that lasts no more than three days and happens no more than three times a year and includes more than 50 people. It excludes activities at parks like the Mason County Recreation Area (MCRA), which already has policies in place.

The new policy also includes fees for using the parks for both commercial and non-commercial entities.

"This is about people who throw large parties or special events that cause the need for cleanup," County Commissioner Lynda Ring Erickson said.

Fees range from $50 to $500 for non-commercial events and $150 - $550 for commercial events, depending on the expected number of participants. Commercial events will also be charged for $25 for water or electric hookups.

The policy also stipulates that there will be no smoking or consumption of alcohol allowed at county parks and that a permit must be issued by the county prior to the event.

Keates said that while groups are encouraged to apply for permits and pay the fees in the parks policy, the county would not stringently enforce those policies in some cases. For example, school field trips will likely not be charged.

Commissioner Tim Sheldon asked for clarification on the enforcement of the policy Tuesday.

"What is the bright line of when you need a permit and when you don't?" Sheldon asked. "If somebody had a wedding or a family reunion and they didn't check with the parks is somebody going to show up and say: 'Well you had over 50 without a permit? Is there any penalty for that?'"

Keates said that technically any event with more than 50 participants needs to get a permit. He said that the policies would likely not be enforced if a small event like a wedding or family reunion did not get a permit.

"Usually that would be very unlikely," he said. "Most groups that do that ... are contacting us about reserving the park. If it did happen we'd say:

'Well we have this policy and if you do it again contact us.'"

The commission voted to approve the policy unanimously.

Copyright 2011 Shelton-Mason County Journal, Shelton, Washington. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: May 26, 2011

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