Bucks County Herald

Solebury institutes New Hope fee for fields

BIRGITTA WOLFE

Getting no response from New Hope Borough on paying its fair share for use of Solebury’s sports fields, the township on Tuesday, imposed an immediate fee on use of its facilities by its neighbor.

The board of supervisors voted unanimously to charge non-Solebury residents a $50 fee per child to use township recreation fields. The maximum fee per household will be $150. The fee applies to Lambertville, Doylestown and other non-residents as well.

Supervisor Mark Baum Baicker, who proposed the fees, said Solebury remains open to resuming negotiations with New Hope on paying its fair share of the costs.

The fees would not apply to non-township children who have already registered for sports for 2018.

“This fee schedule would be for 2018 only, with future fees dependent upon any cooperation from New Hope,” Baum Baicker said.

He estimated that if Solebury has the same number of registrations in 2018 as it had in 2017, this would produce $10,750 in revenue. However, by subtracting registrations already submitted, the amount would be lower, he added.

“I realize that even a modest non-resident fee impacts players and their parents. But the New Hope Borough Council has given us no other reasonable option.

“By the same token, I don’t like that the fee schedule I am advocating yields less revenue that any reasonable agreement with New Hope should produce. (But) we are doing our best to keep the fees from becoming unduly burdensome,” Baum Baicker said.

In November the supervisors, after failing to convince New Hope to negotiate new terms, rescinded a 2007 agreement with the borough that allowed New Hope to use township fields for $1,500 a year while the township had to pay $127,000.

Before that happened, Solebury met with New Hope in October in what was to be the first of several meetings.

“We came prepared with numbers, concepts, etc., but New Hope brought nothing. They canceled the scheduled follow-up meetings and have not responded to any of our subsequent requests to continue the discussion,” Baum Baicker said.

Supervisor Kevin Morrissey was not at the Tuesday meeting but left a statement on the issue, noting, “Without feedback from New Hope, Solebury Township is left to navigate this issue without New Hope input. However, as costs rise, I cannot condone those increases be the sole responsibility of Solebury parents. Fairness needs to be considered. ... I am hopeful we will be able to meet with representatives from New Hope to develop a better solution.”

“We’re not looking to hurt anyone,” said Supervisor Chair Helen Tai. “We’re just looking for something reasonable.”

Supervisor Noel Barrett urged New Hope team members and parents to put some pressure on the borough to come to the table.

Baum Baicker agreed, saying, “... It’s up to New Hope to decide if they feel the same way about their kids that we feel about ours. I thus would encourage the parents of New Hope kids who participate in our sports programs to contact their borough leaders to urge them to cooperate with Solebury to develop a cost-sharing arrangement that is fair to Solebury, New Hope and the kids from both communities.”

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