By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – Young soccer players from the Town of Lawrence who participate in the De Pere Rapides Youth Soccer program will no longer have to pay non-resident fees to participate.
De Pere charges non-resident fees, generally about $20, to out-of-towners playing in sports either sponsored by De Pere or which use city-owned athletic facilities.
Rapides participants from the Town of Ledgeview don’t pay the fees because Ledgeview has soccer fields used by the teams.
On Oct. 1, De Pere’s common council voted unanimously to add Lawrence to that short list of exceptions for the same reason.
In a move recognizing “soccer facility proportionality,” the council’s intergovernmental cooperation agreement states it’s fair to both municipalities and youth to waive the non-resident fees for Town of Lawrence participants because
Lawrence has developed soccer fields within its boundaries that are similar in size and number to De Pere’s.
Common Council Alder Dean Raasch, who also sits on the Board of Park Commissioners, was the sole nay vote against the move last month when the park board took a vote on it, but he relented this time around.
“I think it’s part of a bigger discussion, since De Pere Rapides isn’t technically part of the park and rec department, yet we’re collecting non-resident fees on their behalf,” he said in explaining why he voted no in his capacity as park commissioner, then yes on the council.
Raasch said the city rents out softball and baseball diamonds to other groups that aren’t part of the De Pere Parks, Recreation and Forestry, as well. But De Pere Rapides rents fields in three other communities besides De Pere.
“I’m wondering if there’s some other way we could go about it instead of going through this process,” he said. “I do support not charging the non-resident fee, but I think it’s part of a bigger conversation we should have about how we should handle non-parks department programs.”
Most soccer players in De Pere Rapides come from southeastern Brown County, with its district boundary covering the De Pere, West De Pere and Wrightstown school districts.
The Rapides’ De Pere division uses 10 soccer fields in De Pere, four in Ledgeview, and three in Lawrence.
Of the 1,324 members of the De Pere division of the Rapides, 619 (47 percent) are from De Pere, 237 (19 percent) are from Ledgeview, and 167 (13 percent) are from Lawrence, according to figures submitted by Jim Westerman, president of the De Pere Rapides Youth Soccer Club.
The Wrightstown division of the club, separate from the De Pere division, has another 240 participants, and it plays all of its home games at the Wrightstown High School.