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November 9, 2012

To pay or not to pay

The policy on high school event parking

For most area teams, the Friday night lights of high school football will be turned off for the year after tonight’s regular season finales. Players, their families and fans will have time to think back on touchdowns, cheerleaders and — parking fees?

Are the parking fees at city and county high school games required or are they donations?

“The county school system does not charge guests to park,” Eric Beavers, community and media relations specialist for Whitfield County Schools, said. “The booster clubs at some schools ask for a courtesy and collect donations that directly benefit students through their volunteer efforts, but they are not mandatory.”

The same goes for city schools.

“We don’t ask families to pay for parking,” Pat Holloway, Dalton Public Schools director of communications, said. “All that money is voluntary and it helps support the athletic programs. There is no charge to park.”

That doesn’t mean every parking lot is open to the public.

“There are some parking lots by Harmon Field, at the lower west end, that the booster club (Dalton Quarterback Club) offers at a premium,” Holloway said.

“That’s something that has been negotiated between the booster club and local government officials,” Ron Ward, athletic director for Dalton Public Schools, said. “We don’t charge parking at all. Our parking lots are open and people can park on Manly Street or the other surrounding streets. If there’s a football game they want to see, there’s plenty of public parking.”

Confusion over parking is common, said Allan Felker, president of the booster club.

“This happens every five or six years, then people forget about it until it comes back up again,” Felker said. “We offer a few limited sponsor spaces — the diamond level — that anyone who joins the Quarterback Club has access to.”

Paul Veraldi, booster club officer, said parking donations at other schools are “kind of an unwritten rule to help one another out.”

“They can’t make you pay because it’s public property,” Veraldi said. “However, they do take donations up to support the clubs. The way budgets are now, it’s harder to run programs. I, having a son play in sports, don’t see the issue. I guess I can understand someone sitting there thinking, ‘I pay taxes so why should I pay to park?’ but I don’t mind it personally. I don’t think twice about it.”

Veraldi said paying to park can also help sports that don’t attract large crowds and can’t generate their own funding.

“You look at basketball or tennis and they are harder to fund because they don’t get the large crowds,” he said. “That’s not to take away from those sports, it’s just the nature of the beast. Paying to park can help fund those sports, too.”

 

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