They call themselves the Friends of SARC and their mission is to troubleshoot the recreation center and brainstorm solutions.
At the first meeting, Aug. 25, a handful of people gathered at the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center under the direction of Sue Sorensen, SARC board chairman.
Problems identified by those in attendance included limited hours of operation, no child care, a perception that SARC hates youngsters and the affordability of memberships and day passes.
Possible solutions included splitting membership costs for the pool and other facilities, inquiring about grants, lowering the temperature of the pool and working more on community outreach.
At the Sept. 24 meeting, Sorensen told the crowd of roughly a dozen some of the solutions already were being put in place. An information booth was operated at a family festival; the October Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce after-hours event will be hosted at SARC; the board might consider opening the facility earlier on weekends and a Zumba class for children will begin this month.
“We need to learn that kids need activities also,” Sorensen said.
The board also is looking at using a partition to create a small room with a table and chairs so families holding birthday parties at the center can use it for cake and presents, she said. The room also could be used for knitting and other craft classes or stretching.
Sorensen said she is trying to steer the facility into becoming more user-friendly and family friendly.
Kathy Hogan, a SARC member who attended the meeting, said she heard rumors in the community about SARC starting a day care among other things.
“I think members don’t feel like they’re a part of it,” she said, adding members might complain but they aren’t informed of changes.
SARC Director Taylor McDonald suggested staff could put information about changes in a member newsletter or post them on fliers in the restrooms. Additionally, Friends of SARC meetings are open to everyone.
One of the biggest changes proposed is upgrading the center’s computer system and allowing monthly payments on memberships as opposed to requiring the full amount up-front, McDonald said.
Though the center hasn’t increased prices in two years, electric and propane prices have gone up, Sorensen said, adding the center spends $10,000 a month on those two utilities.
It is difficult to lower prices when bills are going up and the center is completely self-sufficient, relying only on user fees and donations, she said.
The recreation center used to get tax funding, but when a levy failed to pass in January 2003, the center lost a third of its budget, she said.
“It was quite a blow,” Sorensen said. “The only money we get is what comes through the door.”
The next meeting of the Friends of SARC, open to members and non-members, is at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at SARC, 610 N. Fifth Ave.
Reach Amanda Winters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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