McLean County Council authorizes homeless assistance and increased boat rental fees at Comlara Park


BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) – The McLean County Board of Directors on Thursday agreed to provide tens of thousands of dollars to help the homeless, and also voted to increase the cost of boat rentals at Comlara Park, managed by the county, north of the Twin Cities.

The board of directors voted unanimously to withdraw $ 48,000 from a small business fund and transfer that money to the PATH Crisis Center. The agency is struggling to pay homeless people to stay temporarily in local hotels and motels to protect them from the freezing cold.

Normally, homeless people made their way to the Salvation Army’s Safe Harbor shelter, but that facility was closed due to a COVID outbreak, according to PATH Executive Director Karen Zengerle.

She said the county government money should be enough for the rest of the winter.

Meanwhile, the county board voted 17-1 to increase the cost of boat rentals at Comlara Park.

As of March 1, pedal boat rental fees increase from $ 2 per half hour to $ 10. Hourly and daily rentals for canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards range from $ 3 to $ 15 and $ 30. Hourly and daily rentals for non-gasoline powered rowboats increase from $ 5 to $ 20 and $ 35.

The chairman of the real estate committee, Josh Barnett, was the only board member to vote against the price hikes.

“With so many individuals and families struggling financially during the pandemic, I didn’t want to make it harder for people to rent boats and enjoy all that Comlara has to offer,” Barnett told 25 News in a prepared press release.

County Parks and Recreation Director Michael Steffa said in a staff report that boat rental fees in Comlara remain competitive with neighboring parks and more revenue from the fee hike is needed. to meet operating costs.

The increases come into effect on March 1.

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