Brentwood to charge large groups for park trail use
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. -
A walk in the park could cost you in Brentwood. The city has implemented a sort of pay-to-play policy that forces large groups of non-residents to pay to use park trails.
The policy could have an impact on runners like Dan Moore.
"Here lately, I've seen more [runners]," said Moore. "I don't know if they're teams or whatever, but there's usually six to eight to 10 people running in a group."
Moore lives in Rutherford County, but Crockett Park on Volunteer Parkway in Brentwood is on his way home. He is currently using the park's trails to train for an upcoming marathon.
If he chooses to run in a group in the future, he could be charged.
Last week, Brentwood commissioners approved a new policy to charge those who are not residents of the city or Williamson County for use of park trails.
The system's 15 miles of trails are accessible from Crockett, Granny White and Tower Parks.
According to Parks Director Dave Bunt, groups of 20 or more, made up of mostly non-local residents, must pay $25 for every two hours of trail use.
Bunt was unavailable for an on-camera interview, but spoke to Nashville's News 2 by phone Monday.
He said the new policy was drafted and approved after 80 members of a home school cross country team hit the trails for training last fall, prompting a local resident to complain to Brentwood Parks and Recreation.
He also said the trail fee was the lowest amount charged for group activities by the department.
Fees and permits are already required in the city's 11 parks for use of pavilions, courts and fields with strict policies on non-resident participation in group activities.
However, this is the first policy specific to trail use.
It's a little surprising," said Moore. "You would think the park is for everyone to enjoy, so I wouldn't think you would have to pay to run even with a group of people."
Moore isn't the only one surprised.
"I can understand if you're in the park and someone's trying to play Frisbee here and football there, it might cause some conflict, but the trail is for running," said Sam Pridgen.
Pridgen grew up less than a mile from the park and feels the trails should be free to all.
"I'd welcome people to come here," he said. "I don't care how many people there were as long as they're not harming the park, which I haven't seen anything like that."
Following news coverage of the park policy, City Manager Kirk Bednar reached out to News 2 by email stating the policy only applies to organized groups.
He said, "Under the policy, an organized group has one or more of the following characteristics: requires people to register/join; has membership fees; is registered with the State of TN or the IRS as a non-profit group; or has scheduled group sponsored events."
"A group of 20 or more neighbors, co-workers, other individuals, etc. who run together on the trails, regardless of where they live, are not affected by this policy," he added.
Brentwood Parks and Recreation workers are responsible for enforcing the new policy by monitoring the trails and collecting fees from violators.
Anyone wishing to obtain trail access for a large organized group should contact the department for a facility request form, trail availability and advance payment.