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SARC leaders hope to keep facility self-sufficient

For more than seven years, users of the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center have paid daily, monthly and annually and kept open the multi-use facility that taxpayers built and once subsidized.

For the near future, that's the way it will remain, say SARC director Sue Jacobs and board president Erika Starks.

But the financial future of the center is a tenuous one, the leaders warn.

"In a perfect world, self-sufficiency is fine," Starks says, "but I'm not sure it's realistic."

Jacobs says with continually increasing costs of utilities, a needed locker room renovation on the horizon and any unforeseen major capital outlay for the aging facility, the SARC board may have to find some source of alternate funding.

Until then, Sequim's own Parks and Recreation District on Fifth Avenue is getting some new equipment and adding classes to keep the customers - and dollars - coming in.

Starks and Jacobs outlined several new additions coming soon to the center, including:

• Six new treadmills and two new ellipticals, all featuring televisions. The machines are set to arrive later this month and will be stationed in the front aerobic machine room. Also coming are three abdominal muscle-focused machines. Several of the new machines are MP3 player-ready and are set up to run iFit programs that allow users to digitally track their workouts. In all, SARC is adding about $80,000 in new equipment, Jacobs says.

• An expansion of popular Zumba classes. Family classes for Zumba, a Latin American dance-inspired fitness style, now are at SARC on Saturday mornings while youth Zumba (ages 8 and older) comes to SARC for July only; that class is set for 3:15-4:15 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays.

• Pickleball now is at SARC from noon-3 p.m. Monday through Friday in the gymnasium. There is no extra fee for playing and the facility has paddles.

• Costs for using racquetball courts now are built into the daily visit, monthly, semi-annual and annual fees.

• SARC's three personal trainers may train clients as young as 12 years old. The previous rule was trainers could work with clients at least 14 years old.

• A new "Dawn Yoga" class is from 6-7 a.m. weekdays.

• "Core and More' aerobics class is 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.

• Second-grade swimming lessons is a program that SARC used to host and is resurrecting.

• Web site sign-ups (at www.sarcfitness.com) are for those wishing to receive notifications of class updates, facility closures and more.



Still a popular place to work out

Built in the mid-1980s and opened in 1988, the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center has many more challengers to its clientele base than it did when the center's doors opened. Sequim now is home to two other workout gyms and other workout-specific trainers, such as yoga instructors.

Starks says the key to keeping SARC open and viable is communication.

"We try to do a better job of letting people know what's going on with our business," she says. "There's a bit of a disconnect. We're a parks district. People think we're a private club. It's hard to dispel that."

Taxpayers funded SARC through levies until the fall of 2002, when voters rejected two different proposals. The board hasn't offered a levy proposal since then.

Although things slow

down at SARC in certain months - April, May and September, most notably - the facility sees more than 550 individual visits per day on average, Jacobs and Starks say.

The wear and tear on the 22-year-old building is taking its toll on its most used parts, the SARC leaders say.

"Our No. 1 priority is going to be (remodeling) our locker room and changing rooms," Jacobs says.

Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.







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