Rec center turns 1 year
LONGMONT - There have been a few kinks in the workouts, but city officials are happy with the new Longmont Recreation Center , which in its first year surpassed expecta-tions for both attendance and reve- nue.
Based on its nine-month operations number from April 2002 through December 2002, the city projected 162,000 visits to the center on the Quail campus.
Officials logged 247,000.
Those extra visits mean extra dollars for the city's general fund, which benefits from the recreation center fees.
In the same nine-month time period, $603,012 was anticipated, but $1 million was collected.
Center manager Troy Houtman reported that the recreation center also cost less to run than was projected with a $1.1 million nine-month operation cost projected, but the actual cost was $836,441.
The Longmont Recreation Center opened March 26, 2002, and was built from money generated by a November 1999 voter-approved bond issue worth $22.8 million.
The 63,250-square-foot recreation center , which shares a campus with the Longmont Museum - also built from bond money - has been a steady destination for residents and visitors for the past year.
"We have just been overwhelmed with the community's response to the rec center ," said Sue Jacobson, recreation services supervisor, adding later, "We have been very happy with our numbers and our revenue from the beginning."
That does not mean, however, that there weren't some problems with the new operation.
She said that officials are still adjusting program offerings and hours to try to meet the demand. She said that customer comment cards are used to collect feedback on services. She said they are usually specific to certain aspects of the facility.
"The trends are asking if you can add, for example, different aerobic classes," she said.
Staff are assigned to get back to patrons with answers.
"We've started now to fine-tune aspects of the rec center ," Jacobson said.
Looking back, both Jacobson and Houtman said that it is clear that parts of the center and its amenities could have been larger, but the money wasn't there at the time to make it larger.
"It can never be big enough," Houtman said. "Our peak times we could definitely use a lot more space."
Parking is often tight, especially when youth basketball is running, Houtman said. Overflow parking in the Longmont Museum's lot hasn't been popular and some people have chosen, instead, to park illegally to be closer to the front door.
"So many people come here with one car, one person ... that just takes up a lot of space."
Kim and Brad Simpson, who have been using the center for the past couple of months, agree that it is often crowded and parking can be difficult.
They like to use the climbing wall but sometimes have trouble getting space and time on it.
"Sometimes we come here and we're turned away," she said.
Brad Simpson said the weight room is also tight, but he likes the amenities at the center .
"It is a nice setup for the price," he said. "I think it is pretty cheaper in terms of going to a gym."
The center has offered a number of activities for local teen-agers, who often lament the lack of activities for their age group in Longmont.
Since its opening, the city built a new skate park adjacent to the center , which has been crowded when weather permits.
Other teen-agers meet at the center and make use of the other options.
Ben Gauthier, 16, said he and his friends use the swimming pool and common areas.
"It is basically the only place to go that has everything in one place," he said.
He and friends spend time at the center after school.
"There's not much to do in Longmont," said Andrea Leonhardt, 15, who said she and friends often attend together.
"You can meet new people here," she said.
City finance director Jim Golden said that when the city's overall financial situation improves, the recreation center might be able to expand some programming because it is performing so well financially.
In the meantime, the extra money that it is generation is going into the city's ailing general fund.
"We're not going to expand some services while we're cutting them out elsewhere," Golden said.
Jacobson said passes are being renewed and the popularity of the center seems stable.
"We can just start fine tuning everything else based on demand," she said.