Recreation Committee, October 2018

November 1st, 2018  |  Published in Observer Reports

Recreation Committee
Oct. 3, 2018

Present: Council members Tres Roeder (chair) and Sean Malone; Lisa Cremer, school board member; Terri Breeden, deputy director of curriculum for the school district; citizen members Leta Obertacz and Troy Neujahr; Alexandria Nichols, director of recreation, Jeri Chaikin, CAO; and David Weiss, mayor

Mr. Roeder called the meeting to order at 6 p.m. The minutes of the June 6, 2018, meeting were approved as written.

Two items of business were on the agenda:

Summer Pop-Up Programs

Ms. Nichols introduced Alyssa Porter, parks program coordinator, who reported on a new series called Summer Pop-Up Programs in the Parks. A series of free summer programs in our city’s parks was piloted in the summer of 2017 and was run on a larger scale this summer. The idea is to use recreation to build the value of the community and to build relationships. Four different types of programs were offered: youth pop-ups, adult fitness, Shaker Heights Arts Council collaboration, and community events.

The focus this year was on youth programs. Staff collaborated with the Arts Council on programs for adults. Some experimentation was done with date/time/location. Afternoon and evening programs were the best-attended. Total number of participants from May to August was 1,753. Most popular locations were Chelton, Horsehoe Lake, and Thornton parks.

Top three most attended programs were:

  • Art in the Park (at Chelton Park), held for six weeks, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays: 636 participants
  • Youth pop-ups: 892 participants
  • Yoga in the Park: 182 participants

Results of the programming were mainly positive; the community wants more. New residents especially appreciated the activities. To improve, there should be more consistent promotion using hashtag #ShakerPlays. Staff wants to think about including some fee-based programs; some questions have been raised about all of the programs being free.

One new program to be offered from late October 2018 through the end of March 2019 is Parents Night Out, to be offered in a series of 15 Friday nights. A fee-based program, with a charge of $20, it will be done in partnership with the Van Aken District. Friday night programming will include Friday night skate, movies and popcorn. Kids ages 6-12 will be split up by age group.

Budget Process

The last big item on the agenda was a discussion in preparation for the city’s budget process—how to set priorities for future Recreation expenditures. The Recreation Department’s annual budget is $3.3 million with a city subsidy of about $1 million. The staff asked the committee to help define a rationale for allocating public money.

Recreation services are divided into two categories:

  • Value-based services that support strong neighborhoods and school activities and include parks and playgrounds, athletic field management, the ice rink, the pool, child care and camps
  • Discretionary services support active lifestyles that are not obligatory for the city to provide, such as Learn to Swim, sports skills classes, and adult programming like Zumba and yoga

Most programs do have dedicated revenue, but the Memorial Day Parade, park maintenance and facility monitoring do not have dedicated revenue.

The committee was asked three questions:

  • What factors are important to consider when thinking about the annual subsidy?
  • How should the city prioritize value-based programs/services and discretionary programs/services?
  • How should the city allocate the annual recreation subsidy across programs?

The committee identified programs like school-age after-school care as essential and said one priority is to serve people most at risk, including seniors on fixed incomes.

Mayor Weiss invited committee members to participate in the budget process.

The meeting was adjourned at 7 p.m.
Jan Devereaux

Comments are closed.