Aiming to stay viable in an increasingly competitive market, Sequim’s own publicly built fitness center is lowering its daily rates and expanding its hours.
Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center board members agreed last week to trim the operating budget, trim daily pass rates for all age groups and, on a six-month trial basis, significantly boost hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
“That has been a big complaint, that we don’t open early enough on Saturday or Sunday,” SARC board president Sue Sorensen said following the board’s budget approval on Dec. 14.
“If we find that people aren’t using (the added hours) … then we’re going to review this again and maybe make some changes.”
Cutting the general admission prices — from $10 to $8 for adults, $5 to $4 for juniors (8-15), $2.25 to $2 for children (3-7) and a new, fee-free infant (0-2) age group — was director Taylor McDonald’s idea to help spur more daily use.
Annual, six-month and monthly (30-day) fees are rising 4 percent, Sorensen noted.
“(Last year) we were trying to be responsive and sensitive to the economy and said we’re not going to raise the rates,” she said. “We felt like we needed to raise them. We couldn’t do it (keep them static) for two years in a row. Just like everyone, our water, sewer, propane fees have gone up.”
Responding to user requests, SARC now will be able to set up monthly deductions for those patrons who do not have credit cards or the lump sum to purchase an annual pass.
“We thought, ‘Let’s do what we can to make it more user friendly, more financially palatable,’” Sorensen said.
The best deal to attend SARC, she noted, continues to be the annual pass. For one year, an adult pays $386.57. At the rate of three times per week, that works out to about $2.75 per visit.
The recreation center was built and supported by public tax dollars as Clallam County Parks & Recreation District 1, a junior taxing district, but now operates solely on user fees. A levy proposal in 2002 failed twice.
Since then, several physical fitness businesses have moved to Sequim. In the November general election, some SARC board candidates said the facility should add 24-hour access.
Sorensen said the center’s insurance representatives did not recommend that kind of access to a public facility.
The facility’s annual operating budget for 2012 is $997,800.
SARC hosts an open house from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, with free facility admission and a variety of free classes.
“We are encouraging people to come by and see everything that SARC has to offer,” Sorensen said.
“When we have an open house … it’s amazing how many people come in and go, ‘I’ve lived here for five years and never knew this was here.’”
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.