Master Plan

“You need to have emergency action plans in place for anything foreseeable, and a lot of in-service training with the kids. We have training with the skateguards just like we do with lifeguards. We have to train them in customer service and how to open and close a recreation facility.

“Another aspect is facility inspections and risk management. We have to emphasize that every day we have to go through a certain series of events to preclude accidents — to close that window of an opportunity for something bad to happen. No matter what you’re running — a basketball league, swimming pool, soccer program or even square dancers — you have to inspect that recreational area, fill out the proper reports and be prepared for any emergency that could happen.”

Prince plans to take this philosophy across the board with a well-conceived and organized specific plan that will mirror the town’s long-ranging planning for parks and recreation facilities.

Fast-Forward

Prince is working with the town council on a staffing plan for the next couple of years. He plans to have four full-time professional recreation people, double the maintenance staff and an army of seasonal staff, which will bring the total of full- and part-time staff to around 100.

“We hire school teachers and high-school students to help us with maintenance already. We’re building several miles of trail systems, and you would not believe the amount of time to pick up trash, mow, trim trees and things like that,” says Prince.

With a site picked out and site work beginning, Plainfield’s $20 million recreation center should be the town’s “crown jewel,” as Prince characterizes it.

Plainfield is on an aggressive construction schedule, with completion slated for late 2003 or early 2004. The rec center will include three wood gym floors, an elevated eighth-mile jogging track, a fitness center, aerobics room, full locker rooms, offices, an indoor leisure pool, a media room with a tiered floor, an indoor play area and an outdoor pool.

Prince envisions a café contracted to a coffee company were people could sit and relax. The café will overlook the outdoor pool, play area and the gymnasium so that parents can sit in the café and watch their kids from above.

“We’re taking the advice of people who have recently opened up rec facilities to get the rec building up and running and don’t worry about programs for the first year,” says Prince.

“Our first job is going to be to hire an aquatics assistant director, and an assistant director for recreation. That person’s responsibility is going to be to start a rec program for the town. We’re going to have an exciting opportunity for someone in recreation to build their own rec program from the ground up — build their own manuals and resources and whatnot.”

Plainfield has soccer, baseball and basketball and other sports programs for kids that are put on by local associations and clubs. Prince’s plan is not to infringe on that, but add recreational programs as the needs and resulting demands arise.

“I’m not a big believer in just filling up a brochure and saying, ‘Look at all the programs we offer.’ It’s going to be based on need. It will have two components to it — informal, self-guided recreation like lifting weights and pick-up basketball games — and programming that our citizens ask us for, then hiring the professionals that know how to carry out that programming,” says Prince.

“You have to give citizens what they want. If they want to play basketball, then we’re going to have a league, but then we’re going to hire the people with the experience to know how to put on that basketball league.

“Recreation is contextual. How they view it somewhere else may be different than how that view it in Plainfield. We have to ask the citizens what they want out of the program, provide it to them, under the umbrella of risk management and safety and what we can feasibly do and not do.”

As part of the department’s updating, Prince is in the process of searching for a management software that will not only provide what parks and recreation needs, but the needs of the town.

So the selection committee includes Prince, a council member and an accounting department representative.

“The most important thing for us is going to be the point-of-sale, financial package and the membership management of running the rec center,” says Prince.

“It looks like Web-based registration is where this is heading, and we’ll be looking at that after we get this place opened. We can’t bite off too much, so I doubt that will be part of the original package, but once we get the rec center up and running efficiently, cautiously and methodically, then we’ll look into some of these other options.”

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