By Julie McCay Turner
The Recreation Commission, in concert with the Recreation Department’s professional staff (Recreation), presented its plan for the summer of 2018 (FY2019) to the Finance Committee (FinCom) on Thursday, February 1.
Continuing Recreation’s goal of defining Springs Brook Park as a primary resource for Bedford residents, the plan suggests several enhancements for the coming season:
- The Park would open by the last day of school, since year-over-year attendance has been nominal in early June
- The Park would be open each day from Tuesday through Saturday, and on Sunday afternoons
- There would be a slight increase in the full membership fee to cover the Sunday hours, with the addition of a limited and less expensive plan for weekdays after 4 pm and weekends
- Swim lessons would be returned to the Summer Adventures program, and non-campers would pay a daily rate for lessons, a membership requirement
- Out-of-town visitors would still need to become members in order to avail themselves of the Park and its amenities
Opening registrations earlier in the year, before families make commitments to other venues; increasing the Park’s marketing and social media presence; a Friends of Springs Brook Park membership drive;, and general projections for an increasing numbers of young families in Bedford are expected to support growth in the Park’s use during the coming season.
About the funding model and request for summer 2018
While not perfect, the summer of 2017 was positive for Springs Brook Park, but the season’s significant membership growth did not offset eventual revenue deficits.
The Commission has requested that a portion of the Springs Brook Park summer salaries be absorbed into the Town’s annual operating budget with a review each year.
After the final 2017 figures were entered, Recreation’s original FY219 request for Town support was reduced from $105,000 to $80,000 for the 2018 swim season.
The Commission presented a 5-year plan to reduce the Park’s operating loss by increasing revenue by 10% in 2018 and by 7% in each of the next four years, while holding the line for expenses.
The Commission reviewed prior operating models and presented financial calculations for the coming summer season. Looking back over two years of records, the data suggests improvement in the ratios between revenue and expenses, but it could be several years before the Park is fully self-sustaining.
Recreation is planning a meeting to consider additional ways to increase the Park’s revenue.
Springs Brook Park’s Future Capital Needs
FY2019 – already on the Community Preservation Committee list
- $50,000 for rehabilitation of the spray park
- $50,000 to study water quality and a filtration System
- $1,314,040 to install a Water Quality & Filtration System if the study shows one to be useful
- $10,000 – Water slide replacement
The Finance Committee’s concerns about Springs Brook Park’s financial health over the long term were evident through suggestions about an improved reporting structure during the swim season; recovering the actual cost of concessions, including indirect expenses such as salaries; and perhaps eventually separating Springs Brook Park operations from the program function that the Recreation Department performs so well.
The entire Recreation Department budget will be voted at Town Meeting, beginning on March 26.