Parks Board Approves Proposed Rec Facility Fees

January 6, 2010

The city’s Parks Board dodged a potentially controversial bullet on Wednesday by deferring to the city council on deciding whether seniors will get discounts at the city’s new recreation facilities.

After back-and-forth discussion about whether high fees might exclude some West U. residents, the West University Place Parks and Recreation Board did approve a fee structure for the Recreation Center and the Colonial Park Pool. The proposed fees are now headed to the city council on Jan. 11 for further discussion and possibly for final approval.

If feedback from a packed room at Wednesday’s board meeting is any indication, the city council is likely to get an earful of extremely different viewpoints about the fees, especially on the topic of senior discounts.

“We don’t feel that is our charge or what we’ve been tasked to do,” said board member Kevin Boyle when explaining why the board will defer the senior issue to council. “We are not suggesting any discounts for seniors, or anybody. We just think that’s something for council to decide.”

The fee structure heading to the council is as follows:

Recreation Center resident rates (Non-resident rates are 50 percent higher)

  • Individual pass — $30 per month, $360 per year
  • Couples pass — $40 per month, $480 per year
  • Family pass — $50 per month, $600 per year
  • Daily walk-in pass — $8 per person (double for non-residents)
  • Public swim daily pass — $5 per person (double for non-residents)
  • Programming classes like jazzercise and yoga would cost extra

Colonial Park Pool

  • Individual pass — $31.25 per month, $125 per year ($100 per year if person held dual membership at Recreation Center)
  • Family pass — $75 per month, $300 per year ($175 per year if family held dual membership)
  • Daily walk-in pass — $5 per person
  • Non-residents would be excluded for the first year of operation

The fee structure also includes rates for reserving tennis courts, and renting facilities at the pool, Scout House and the West U. Community Building.

The Parks Board created a subcommittee of members who researched similar recreation centers like the YMCA to try to find a “fair market price” for the new West U. facilities. The board hopes the proposed fees will cover most of the costs of running the facilities.

Out of 10 audience members at the meeting, everyone had a strong opinion about the fees, but those thoughts came from across the board. The largest faction argued for the need for senior discounts.

“Traditionally, the city of West University has encouraged seniors to use the weight room, the cardio room and the pool by having no fees,” said Mary Lee Gray, a longtime volunteer and former leader with the Good Neighbor Team, a group that helps West U. seniors. “You can call it a benefit, but it’s very helpful for the seniors.”

Council members George Boehme, Chuck Guffey and Steven Segal also volunteer with the Good Neighbor Team. Since the Parks Board had already decided to defer the senior discounts issue, members spent more time discussing the feedback of other residents at the meeting.

Several residents said the fee structure seemed reasonable and affordable to them. Others said they feared that some residents would not want to pay the membership fees packaged together with fees for classes like jazzercise and yoga.

That sentiment was echoed by Board Member Charles May, who raised the same concerns last month.

“It’s going to be very expensive for a family,” May said. “We may have a lot of family folks who will just go join the Y instead of being part of the community.”

Boyle said the subcommittee that created the fees tried to make them fair and simple.

“We’re trying our best to have that balance between what we believe are reasonable rates versus trying to cover our O&M,” Boyle said, referring to the facilities’ operation and maintenance costs. He said the board could lower fees if a significant number of West U. residents end up being priced out.

The city council will begin discussing the fees at a Jan. 11 workshop, said Parks and Recreation Director Tim O’Connor.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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