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Membership rates going up at Bays Mountain Park

Matthew Lane • Sep 25, 2018 at 11:45 AM

KINGSPORT — If you’ve ever thought about becoming a member of Bays Mountain Park, now’s the time to do it. Come the first of the year, membership rates are going up, the first time rates have done so in more than two decades.

After much consideration at its August meeting, the Bays Mountain Park Association Board voted to approve the first increase in membership fees since June 1992. The new rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2019.

While each membership level awards free park entry and a 50 percent discount on zip line rides, the new fees and benefits structure is as follows:

· Individual - $30. Receive up to two passes per public program (planetarium, nature, and barge ride).

· Family - $50. Receive up to six passes per public program.

· Supporting - $100. Receive the same benefits as the family level, plus the option to adopt one of our resident animals. If adopting, you’ll receive a certificate of adoption, plus a bio and picture of your chosen animal.

· Life - $1,000. Receive all of the above benefits plus one private summer barge ride.

The current membership rates are $25 for an individual, $35 for a family and $75 for a supporting level. Though membership rates are going up, there won’t be an increase to the daily fees, Cole said. Admission to the park will still be $5; planetarium shows and barge rides are $5 per person and nature programs are $3 per person.

Rob Cole, manager of Bays Mountain Park, said the decision to raise membership fees was not an easy one.

“The big reason (for the increase) is in 26 years we’ve seen an increase in expenses while revenues have not increased. That’s made the mission of the association more difficult,” Cole said. “As we began benchmarking the park with other destinations, we discovered that our fees were considerably off the mark with competitors.”

The Bays Mountain Park Association supports the park financially in maintaining and operating the Nature Center and programs, including the summer day camp. It also employs two part-time staff to assist in Nature Center operations and up to eight seasonal employees.

Currently the park has more than 3,300 members. Ten years ago, the association had around 1,300 members.

“You can make up the cost of membership with two visits to the park,” Cole said. “It’s still a great bargain, and we’re hopeful it will still be viewed that way.”

To become a member of Bays Mountain Park, simply go to www.baysmountain.com. If you pay for your membership with Paypal, you can choose to have it renewed automatically each year.

For more information, call (423) 229-9447.

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