The Beaufort City Council is looking at a plan to raise the rates to rent Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
Who even knew you could rent the park? How is it that we live in such an open society -- where a revolution in Egypt can be broadcast via my cell phone -- and, yet, we still do a poor job of communicating basic facts?
It seems these days we are so interested in the big picture that we completely ignore the smaller details. You can't live in this wired-in world and not know what The Situation ate for breakfast (toast, no butter) and, yet, a percentage of the populace can't even name their elected representative to City Council. We have to do better.
As for Waterfront Park, the cost right now is $125 for the pavilion overlooking the Beaufort River or $500 a day for the entire park.
I always assumed you could rent the park -- even though I didn't know the low, low price -- based on the fact that once in a blue moon you go downtown and the park is closed and no one seems to know why.
Seriously, when those barriers go up, most of us stand idly by hoping to get a glimpse of what is happening behind them. It's sort of like when you see a limo, and the most important thing in the world immediately becomes trying to see who is inside. Even though you know it's probably some kid on his way to the prom, you keep trying to see in, because it could be Lady GaGa.
But $125 for a whole day is insanely cheap. It's so cheap that I almost want to rent the pavilion even though I have no need for a pavilion. What do you feed a pavilion? Is there a deposit? Does the $125 include electricity, or do I need to bring my own generator? By the way, no answer you give me to any of these questions will talk me out of my pavilion-rental decision.
The proposed change will increase the rates to rent the entire park to a whopping $2,200 for 12 hours, or $350 for just the pavilion for four hours. The pavilion for six hours now will cost $500.
Going from $125 for a day to $350 for one sixth of a day isn't that bad. Really, four hours is about all you need. Truthfully, you'd probably be bored with a pavilion after an hour.
But increasing the rate for the entire park four-fold is quite a jump. What group that rented the park in the past for $500 would ever rent it again for $2,200?
Or is that even the point? Are we increasing the rates to raise revenue, or are we trying to discourage people from actually renting the space? The previous rates were so low, it almost wasn't worth it to justify closing the park for a day. But the proposed rates are so high, one can't imagine it will be rented with the same frequency? What is the goal?
This seems like one of those changes governments make because they think it will solve some vague concern, but all it really will do is expose some larger issue that we never even had a problem with.
I imagine, before now, most people didn't know the cost to rent the park, but as soon as a change is made, there will immediately be a faction of citizens whose No. 1 goal is to complain about how much/little the park costs to rent.
I, too, find myself forming a definite opinion about an issue I previously had no idea about. How can we care so much about stuff that we previously didn't know enough to care about?
Maybe communication is overrated. If clarity just leads to complaining, we might be better off not knowing. Maybe it's better to be on the other side of the barricade.