Finding Purpose

To one extent or another, everything is oversized. This purposeful sizing strategy helps accommodate everyone while creating flexibility for the future. In the field houses, for instance, each can be divided into three teaching or activity centers. And, with 5,000 square feet in the fitness areas, plus indoor running tracks, there is almost always room for anyone — whether student or citizen — to work out.

“One of the things we’re experiencing is greater numbers of people enrolling in our community schools programs — fitness and aerobics classes, for example. It’s great to say you’re selling X number of memberships, but programming is what really drives your revenue,” says DeAngelis.

“We’ve greatly exceeded our membership expectations, but we’re really looking at the programming side to generate revenue — such as age-group swim programs, water aerobics, renting the facilities, and so on. Our biggest money-maker right now is birthday parties. We’re averaging from six to ten birthday parties per week at each facility. We also do a lot of promotions with our local businesses to buy bulk memberships and passes.”

As is the case across North America as more communities build multi-purpose recreation and community centers, staffing is job one. DeAngelis relates that Huron Valley made sure to overstaff when the facility first opened to members in July. This would ensure a quality experience with room to make staffing number changes as user patterns and operations dictated.

“Staffing has been the most difficult thing to handle — trying to stay within our budget, but still offering our community what we promised. By having four bodies of water, plus items like the hot tubs, we’re multiplying the problems we might have, so we’re constantly dealing with issues having to do with start-up and operation.”

Perhaps the most important item on each community center’s punchlist was bringing maintenance staff up to par in this particular area.

“It was very important to us to not only use the training provided by our contractors, but to make sure that our main custodial people who would be working on the facility would be certified pool operators,” says DeAngelis.

“We have at least two people at each site, plus our aquatic directors, who are certified. We meet every two weeks just on the maintenance side, to assure that we have consistency and that we’re fully troubleshooting mechanical and operational issues.”

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