Residents Will Get 50 Percent Off For Rec Facilities

January 25, 2010

It’s final: An individual membership at the new West University Place Recreation Center will be $30 per month, while the Colonial Park Pool will cost a person $125 each summer season. But residents will get half off.

Officials estimate construciton on the West U. Recreation Center is about 85 percent complete.

Officials estimate construciton on the West U. Recreation Center is about 85 percent complete.

Immediately upon approving the rates for the final time, the West U. City Council also decided to give residents a 50 percent discount on memberships and walk-in rates for the 2010 season. The council also granted free access to residents over 65 years old and residents with disabilities.

One main concern in previous discussions was that the fees were too high and would price out some West U. residents. Many residents turned out to the Jan. 25 meeting to support that notion.

“We were all told we should be ready for sticker shock, and indeed we have experienced that,” said Terri Cramer, a West U. resident of 13 years. “It would, in fact, cost my family less to use the Bellaire Rec Center on an annual basis than as a West U. resident it would cost me to join the facilities here.”

The Recreation Center’s rates before the discount will be $30 per month for individual residents, $40 for couples and $50 for families. Colonial Park Pool before-discount memberships will last four months during summer, costing $125 for individuals and $300 for families. Non-residents will be barred from Colonial in 2010, but they can join the Recreation Center — Memberships for non-residents are 50 percent higher than for residents.

Based on feedback that fees were too high, West U. staffers ran alternative financial projections to show what would happen if residents enjoyed free memberships to the Recreation Center, or if they paid only 50 percent of the proposed membership fees.

The 2010 expenditures that city staff expect at the Recreation Center total  about $733,900.

If residents paid the full fees, the city would expect to collect about $606,700 — about 83 percent of the operations cost. Under this scenario, the city would collect about $109,000 from resident memberships and $34,500 from walk-in fees. The remainder comes from other fees for things like exercise programs and sports leagues.

If West U. residents paid only 50 percent of the proposed membership and walk-in rates, the city would expect to collect a total of $534,900 — about 73 percent of the operations cost. That would include about $54,500 in memberships and $17,250 in walk-in fees.

The council did approve the 50 percent discount for 2010.

“It’s kind of a marketing strategy,” said Mayor Bob Kelly.

“It may be, hopefully, that so many people come that this current half-price fee schedule becomes the fee schedule,” said Councilman Steven Segal.

West U. staff will prepare a report at the end of the year so the council can decide what to do with fees going forward. Council members could choose to charge the full rate in 2011, or keep the discount.

Although he voted for the fees in the end, Mayor Pro Tem Bob Fry cautioned other council members against giving the deep discount.

Voters approved a $13.8 million bond to pay for constructing the Recreation Center and Colonial Park Pool, and taxpayers will foot the bill to repay the bond. The city estimates it will cost about $952,000 to run both facilities in 2010.

“We’re going to pay for this somehow,” Fry said. “We’ll pay for it with more taxes, or we’ll pay for it with more fees. There’s no free lunch.”

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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