Park Board work session-rec center rates, Nov. 14, 2013

PARKSThis three-hour work session of the full board continued previous committee work to update and streamline policies for the new recreation center.

Homewood Parks and Recreation Superintendent Rusty Holley presided, offering for discussion a slate of proposed new rates and other policy changes. The board for the most part accepted those proposals, but emphatically overruled or questioned where former rates seemed too low.  Chris Meeks said the center had to generate more revenue to make up for the increased operating costs–about $100,000 yearly according to Don Little, although the board didn’t consult any membership or budget figures at this meeting.

A stark rendering of the new rec center. Will membership increase to cover operating expenses?

A stark rendering of the new rec center. Will membership increase to help cover increased operating expenses? Most park board members think it will.

In one exchange, board member Tim Baggett called for much higher rates, saying he was “perplexed” why the board and staff expected a compensatory “spike” in membership. Chris Mason said he was worried about inadequate parking for increased numbers, and Berkley Squires and other board members said the new building itself would bring new members, as did the new centers that opened in Opelika, Cullman and Trussville. Paula Smalley and Mr. Squires pointed to growing school and basketball league enrollments–the new rec center has more basketball courts. But Baggett dismissed those reasons, adding that the Opelika [and Cullman] facilities also offered new indoor pools, and there was nothing new programmatically in the Homewood center. Basketball enrollments did not translate into new memberships, either, he said. “What will attract new members?”

A summary of the new rates is presented below; all are preliminary and subject to a final vote of the board.

Members present:  Chris Mason, chair, Chris Meeks, vice chair, Becky Morton, Paula Smalley, Don Little and Tim Baggett; arriving 30 minutes late were Keith Stansell and Tom Walker.

Members absent:  Tom Blake. Also absent was council liaison Richard Laws.

Staff attendance:  Berkley Squires, director of public services, Rusty Holley, parks and recreation superintendent, and Jakob Stephens, athletic director. Absent was board secretary Dianne Rice, who records minutes.

Audience attendance:  1


Summary of proposed (yearly) rate and policy changes:

  • The new definition of “household” for all membership classes is two adults age 23 and over and dependent children age 22 years and under. A  “Senior” household consists of two adults age 55 and older.
  • Total Access Membership (former All Purpose memberships) – $175 for the first person and $25 for each additional household member, to a limit of $300. This represents a $50 increase per family of four.
  • Except for rare exceptions, the board has eliminated non-resident memberships for Total Access memberships.
  • Memberships can be financed over 12 months for an additional fee. The fee will likely be between 5-10%.
  • Facility rentals will be offered in two set time blocks per day.

Discounts offered, as follows:

  • Full time park employees – no charge for employee or immediate family.
  • Part-time park employees – no charge for employee; $25 for additional family members
  • Other city employees, FT/PT & school board employees – No charge for employee; $25 for add’l family members. A provision to charge more for non-resident school employees was discussed and removed.
  • Senior households –  Senior rates currently represent an 80% discount; The new rate will reflect a 60% discount tied to the regular Total Access rate, or $70 for the first person and $10 for add’l household member. Senior Center-only memberships are unchanged.

Pool-only memberships:

  • Residents – $150 + $25/add’l household member for Central and West pools. Guest passes remain at $5.
  • Non-residents – The new rate will be $150 plus $25 for each additional family member for the West pool only. Since 2007, non-residents could pay $200 for membership + $50 add’l to both pools. For the first summer only, non-residents will be limited to the West pool only.

Summertime Caregiver memberships – $50, mainly used for children’s babysitters, and expanded from a pools-only membership to allow access to the gym.

Gym guest access – Limited to three guest passes per member per event (mainly basketball games). The board overruled the proposal to prohibit such passes.

Facility rentals:

  • Event rooms – The event room in the new rec center will hold about 75 people and will rent for $300/resident, $600/nonresident in the set block periods. The board may offer extended after-hours rental and seemed to dismiss the idea of allowing alcohol for late-night events. Alcohol is allowed at the Senior Center event room.
  • Central pool and party room –  $200 for members only, including 15 non-member guest wristbands and rented in 90-minute time blocks during normal pool hours.
  • After hours pool parties – From 7-9 p.m.; $400 residents/$800 non-residents.
  • Instructional rooms-These two spaces will be used to continue classes in karate, belly dancing, Kindermusik, etc. at a rate of $15/hour for the larger room and $10/hour for the smaller. There was a good deal of discussion about the low rate, which allows instructors to profit personally and gives access to non-member. However, this allows the center to offer classes without having to hire the staff.
  • Senior Center auditorium + kitchen –  Rates raised from $250/$500 for residents/non-residents to $400/$800.
  • Park pavilions– Rentable pavilions will be available in the two set time blocks for $75/$125 resident/nonresident at Patriot, Overton, Spring and West Homewood parks. Central pavilions #6 and #7 must rent together for $125/$175.

Summer Camp

One location, earlier start, rate and age groups changed – Rate provisionally raised from $200 to $350. The 8-week day camps at Lee and Central facilities will be consolidated into one camp to be held at Central, with the beginning time moved to 8 a.m. (from 9 a.m.) to serve working parents, and eliminating the 4-year-old class. Age groupings are proposed from ages 5-12, with boys- and girls-only classes in the 7-8, and 9-10 age groups. Much discussion surrounded raising the current rate, which doesn’t include aftercare, at $200, for 2-5 p.m.  The new rate takes a first step at adequately covering actual camp operating costs, which, for 300 children, costs roughly $132,000, but brought in only $75,000.

Three hours having elapsed, the meeting broke up at around 8:30 p.m.



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