The Roswell Adult Center will begin charging fees next month, and the news is getting mixed reactions from people who gather at the center on a regular basis.
A sign posted on the front entry doors of the center on North Missouri Avenue informs people that the entry fees will take effect Sept. 1.
“They are not new fees. These are City Council-adopted back on July 12, 2018,” said Marcus Gallegos, the recreation manager for the city of Roswell. “No one ever put them into effect, unfortunately, so this is just trying to get them into effect and be consistent with what City Council put into effect over a year ago.”
Resolution 18-36 was passed unanimously, 10-0, by the Roswell City Council at one of its regular meetings. The vote followed many months of discussion at prior public meetings.
The Recreation Division fees — which apply to both the Roswell Adult Center (sometimes referred to as the Roswell Adult and Recreation Center) and the new Roswell Recreation and Aquatics Center on West College Boulevard — include daily entry fees of $5 for adults 13 or older and $3 for youth, seniors over 60 and military members or veterans, plus tax.
Children 3 or younger are allowed in for free. Spectators also can get in for $1 a day. Billiards has its own fees of $1 a visit or $5 a month, without a separate entry fee. Entry fees also are not charged to those who have already enrolled in and paid for classes at the facilities.
According to a Roswell Adult Center staff member, people who play dominoes at the Roswell Adult Center have been offered the same fees as billiards players.
People also can choose to reduce entry fees significantly by purchasing weekly or monthly passes. The senior fee for a Roswell resident is $7 a week or $25 a month. Annual memberships also are available starting at $150 a year for children who are Roswell residents. Additional discounts for military and veterans and city staff apply to the weekly, monthly and annual rates.
The full list of fees is available at the front desks of the two centers or by contacting city administration offices.
Some people who have grown accustomed to visiting the Roswell Adult Center for free for a daily game of cards or dominoes say that the money isn’t really the issue for most people. Rather, they question whether fees are needed and exactly how they will apply.
The visitors to the center on Saturday afternoon said that they greatly enjoy coming to a clean, well-maintained place with good staff where visitors behave well and get along, but a few said that veterans and senior citizens — who they said already have contributed a great deal to the community — should not have to pay, especially since the building was erected in 1949 as a memorial to veterans. Others, however, said that if one person has to pay, all should pay. Some also said that they would have wanted city staff or city councilors to meet with the people at the center to discuss the issue.
Jim Curry, one of those willing to be identified, said he has been playing at the center for about eight years, ever since he moved to Roswell.
“I moved here partly because of all the activities and services for retirees,” he said. “But now it is changing. It is more about getting seniors here than giving them services. I think it (the facility) needs to continue to be a service of the city to make people come here and stay, not just come and visit.”
He added that it could be difficult to find the foursomes necessary to play a game if some of the regular domino players find somewhere else to gather once the fees take effect.
Others said that they could understand why billiards players are charged fees, because the tables require extra care and maintenance. But, they said, that fees should not apply to domino or card players because there is no wear and tear on the tables.
“I would like the city to take into consideration how much space the domino players are taking. They don’t take much space,” said Victor DeLeon, a billiard player himself. “Dominoes takes up two or three tables. I don’t think they should have to pay as much as we do for the pool room. I understand that the pool tables take extra care.”
Some city councilors did object to the original fee structures suggested by city staff, asking that rates be made more reasonable, especially for families with several children. And there were committee meeting discussions about possibly introducing fee waivers for individuals or families who cannot afford even the lowest rates, but Gallegos said that he is not aware of any waivers or funding assistance available at this time.
Gallegos, who arrived in May after the decisions about the fees were made, said he hasn’t heard the concerns himself, but he understands why some people might feel upset.
“Any time you make changes, there is always a cause and effect for everything,” he said. “Or enforce the changes, in this case.”
He said the fees were introduced to help the city recover some of its costs for operating the facility and to help pay for maintenance and programs.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.