CLEARWATER – Forty years ago, when Clearwater established its rules regarding the fees for using the city’s recreational facilities, the word “family” was universally recognized to mean the household patriarch, his wife and their kids.
But all that changed on June 7, 2012, when the city instituted its Domestic Partnership Registry, which also can be used for same-sex couples. And the city is trying to bring its recreational fees in line with the fact that today’s family doesn’t always look like a Father Knows Best rerun.
“In order to serve the public in a fair and equitable way in terms of establishing fee structures for recreation cards and play passes, the Parks and Recreation Department has for the past 40 years established department policies to define and regulate these fees,” according to a staff memo given to Clearwater City Council members preparing for their Aug. 18 work session. “These definitions appear in all city promotional materials and most notably the ‘My Clearwater’ magazine.
“The codification of these (revised) definitions, as well as adding language that states ‘verification of any age or family status may be required’ will help staff in administering the fee structures necessary to meet the needs of the community.”
In an age when 18 is considered the age of majority for everything from military enlistment to criminal prosecution, the revised recreation fee schedule would charge the “youth” rate for anyone “18 years of age or younger or a full-time college student less than 23 years of age.” People between the ages of 19 and 54 would be considered “adults,” and anyone 55 or older would be classified a “senior.”
Adult Plus One fees would be available to “two family members living in the same household.” The family rate would be available to a “husband and wife or two persons with a Registered Domestic Partnership with the City of Clearwater or Pinellas County … or a legal guardian and their children who live in the same household who are 18 years of age or younger” or are full-time college students under the age of 23.
“The codification of these definitions (at the Aug. 20 city council meeting) as well as language that states ‘verification of any age or family status may be required’ will help staff in administering the fee structures necessary to meet the needs of the community,” according to the staff memo.
The council members agreed.
“These changes allow us to be consistent with the city’s definition of families and amend it to include domestic partners,” Kevin Dunbar, Clearwater’s director of parks and recreation, told the council.
Another item that was discussed at the work session and will be on the council’s Aug. 20 agenda will explain which areas of Clearwater Beach are off-limits to fishing.
“The current language restricts far more areas than originally intended and in essence includes any area where persons are allowed to swim,” according to a staff memo. “This (proposed) ordinance is necessary to protect the public from an inherent safety conflict between fishing and swimming in the same public beach areas.”