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Jones Center Now Charges Higher Fees

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Starting Tuesday, those coming to the Jones Center to swim or ice skate will see increased user fees.

Jones Center Trustee Board Member, Ed Clifford, says higher user fees and increased rates for conference rooms as well as the wedding chapel are just a few steps the Center is taking to raise enough money to keep the facility running.

"Overall, we think that not only the organizations that are partnering with us but the community paying a little bit more will go a long way towards keeping that facility in Springdale for a long time," said Clifford.

5NEWS asked viewers how they felt about the increase and many were not happy. Jones Center Chief Advancement Officer, Kelly Kemp-McLintock,hopes users eventually adjust to the new fees.

"I think it may take the public a while to adjust to increased fees and a membership plan," said Kelly Kemp-McLintock.

Cari Christenson has been skating at The Jones Center regularly for two years. She owns skates so, before Tuesday, she was not paying a fee to use the rink. Skating is her passion and she says she does not mind paying but thinks the Center could have eased into the increase.

"The fee maybe could have been, for other folks, a graduated kind of fee," said Christenson. "Maybe start at five dollars but throw in the skate rental so there wasn't such a sticker shock for a lot of people."

Those looking to swim will pay an extra dollar. Usage fees are now three dollars per swimmer. Ice skaters will pay five dollars for access to the rink and an extra two for skate rentals. Previously, rink access was free.

Each year, it costs 3.25 million dollars to run The Jones Center. User fees cover ten to fifteen percent of the expense.

"We have had the staff look at rates compared to everything else we can find in Northwest Arkansas and we are below market rates so we feel really good about that," said Clifford.

The Jones Center is working on membership and scholarship programs for regular users. The Center hopes the programs will launch by this summer.