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Rec center grand opening plans discussed

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Parks and Recreation Director Jim Burress, far left, gave a presentation on updates to the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center during the city of Roswell’s General Services Committee meeting on Feb. 27. City Manager Joe Neeb, standing, addressed the committee. The Finance Committee also discussed the rec center, on Thursday morning. (Alison Penn Photo)

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Committees review finances and issues related to staffing, capacity

Presentations and discussions related to the Roswell Recreation and Aquatic Center have been addressed by the Roswell City Council’s General Services and Finance committees over the last couple of weeks.

General Services

At the General Services Committee meeting on Feb. 27, Jim Burress, Parks and Recreation director, said some of the job descriptions for the recreation staff are being restructured, and the plan is for the staff to move into the rec center at the end of May and beginning of June.

Burress said the rec center staff will present programming at a future meeting.

Burress said the operational hours are as follows: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. A report in the meeting’s agenda packet stated the outdoor aquatic facility will be open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

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City Manager Joe Neeb said the recreation department has 18 full-time equivalent employees budgeted, and 16 seasonal aides.

Juanita Jennings, director of public affairs, said a soft launch for CivicRec took place last week and the city is working to test it. CivicRec, she explained, allows members of the community to create an online account (connected to a credit card) to sign up for classes, purchase memberships or rent Parks and Recreation, Roswell Museum and Art Center and/or Roswell Public Library facilities.

Jennings said her department is working on CivicRec — as are the finance and IT departments — and spring break will be the timeframe for testing.

In June, Jennings said there will be a soft opening for community organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the city council and their families and other entities like the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corporation, to test the facility.

“On July 1, it will open to the public,” Jennings said of the recreation and aquatic center. “That week is a big week for the city because we’ll have our Fourth of July event at Cielo Grande, which is a few hundred feet away, and then we’ll have the big grand opening for the community on July 13 …”

Councilor Savino Sanchez, committee chairman, said he wants to generate excitement for the opening. Jennings said the opening will be a “big celebration” and the opportunity will be maximized with a media plan.

Sanchez asked about the landscaping around the rec center. In response, Burress said there will be rock and native desert plants, and there will be artificial grass near the outdoor pool.

Pool capacity is estimated to be 200-350 people, according to city staff. In addition to asking about the estimated capacity, some councilors asked at what age children could be without supervision, something the staff said they would review.

Finance Committee

At the Finance Committee meeting on Thursday morning, Councilor Steve Henderson asked if there was an idea about funding for operation of the rec center — and if the city will receive enough tax money to cover expenses. Neeb said there is not a complete answer at this time, and Finance Director Monica Garcia said the finance department will have an idea soon, after communicating with other involved departments.

In February 2017, the city council approved the issuance of up to $23 million of gross receipts tax improvement revenue bonds to fund the recreation and aquatics center.

Mayor Dennis Kintigh said he wanted to see the recreation revenue streams compared to the debt service for the rec center. Kintigh said he assumed the revenue would be greater than the debt service, and the excess would go to operations.

In regard to aquatic-side capacity, Councilor Caleb Grant, Finance Committee chair, said he believes the outdoor aquatics area will “need attention and quickly” and the city should continue to expand it.

Kintigh said aquatic expansion deserves a “legitimate discussion” in about a year. Kevin Dillion, project and facilities director, said some of the capacity will be impacted when Artesia’s aquatic center opens.

Grant asked about the debt payment on the rec center and Dillon said it was $1.1 million per year. Kintigh said there are about 18 years left of debt service on rec center.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.