Non-affiliated sports teams face fees to use public parks after dark

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Youth athletics coaches in Lafayette Parish are protesting what they call “outrageous fees” they’re being charged to use public parks.

There are 35 public parks in the parish. Each offers different equipment and facilities to cater to the community.

But to the surprise of one youth baseball coach, there was a fee attached for his players to practice on the public field.

Ahmad Prejean has coached his son’s baseball team for the past decade.

The latter of those years has been for a select, or tournament team.

But it wasn’t until last week when he tried to reserve a field for practice, he was told it would cost him 100 dollars per day.

“We’ve been playing for years and we’ve never had a problem and they told us at the park we would not be able to use it unless we paid $100 fee per practice to be able to use the lights for an hour and a half,” Prejean.

He says for the government to charge tournament team coaches is unfair, especially when our tax dollars keep the parks and recreation department afloat.

“It’s a sport that they all love. We do it daily, almost, we practice as much as we can. It keeps them away from the negative influences.” Prejean said.

Lafayette Parks and Recreation Athletic Manager Greg Gautreaux says if anyone wants to use the park during the day, it’s free, and on a first come, first served basis.

“If they want to use the lights it’s a fee that we charge to help cover the cost of the lights. It is a hundred dollar fee that we charge for the lights. It is a fee that’s charged to any team outside our program,” Gautreaux told News 10.

The athletic manager also pointed out a parks and recreation millage that’s nearly 60 years old and may be time to modify.

In 2011, voters in the city of Youngsville approved a one-cent sales tax to build a multimillion dollar facility and as of now, there’s no charge to reserve a field for practice.

“Brown Park could use a lot of work. The way that it’s centrally located between interstate 10 and right by interstate 49, that would be a wonderful spot for them to do some kind of renovations. So definitely, I would support that,” Prejean said.

If there’s an ongoing issue in your neighborhood or community, or you simply have questions that need answers, Dial Dalfred at (337) 262-0868.

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