Call it a place to get energized. Or to relax. To swim or to lift weights or to get that heart rate up or to simply socialize.
Anything but “self-sufficient.”
The Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center continues to keep its doors open years after public funding helped build it, but that may not last forever.
Susan Sorensen, a longtime SARC board president who declined to re-run for her position this fall, said it may be inevitable that SARC officials propose a levy to help supplement operations, something the junior taxing district entity hasn’t done in more than a decade.
“(Board members) are going to have to go to the public and ask, ‘Do you like us? Are we meeting your needs?’” Sorensen said.
But Sorensen said she likes the direction the center is taking with new director Scott Deschenes, hired near the end of June. In fewer than six months, Sorensen said Deschenes is “changing the culture” of the facility.
Those changes include a bigger focus on families — the facility now has “Family Fun Pool Time” three evenings a week and youth swim lessons on Saturdays — and creative changes to pass fees, allowing for three-month pass plans (previously unavailable), family passes (previous passes added costs for additional members) and off-peak-hour rates.
With just two full-time workers and few number of part-time employees, Deschenes said one of his goals early on was to improve SARC’s image. That started with cosmetic things like staff shirts and name tags, but also includes an improved professional attitude from staffers, he said.
“I’m very dedicated to this place,” Deschenes said. “The better tools I can give (SARC employees), the better customer service they can provide.”
During September’s annual closure for renovation and cleaning, SARC got some small but significant upgrades, Deschenes said, from Sequim High colors on the gym floor lines — “We want them to feel like this is their home,” he said — to a new shell on the small pool’s bottom.
“We want SARC to be the center for Sequim’s recreation (and) Scott has done an awesome job,” Sorensen said.
Deschenes said he hopes to also change the attitude of those who don’t use the center.
“Some people have this impression about SARC (but) this is a community facility,” he said. “You can have your own sauna or hot tub … or you can share. We get to know their families, their children. I truly believe a place like this can create community.”
That was one of the reasons behind the Saturday evening family nights, Deschenes said. By eliminating lap lane usage those times, he said, SARC was able to open up simultaneous use of the water slide, diving, rope swinging, water volleyball, water basketball and more.
Deschenes’ changes come at a good time, Sorensen said, when one looks at the bottom line: about 80 percent of costs are covered by what SARC takes in, Sorensen said, and about 20 percent comes from the reserves. Most facilities like SARC, Sorensen said, split expenses 50-50 between user fees and some other funding source.
SARC dips into its reserves about $100,000-$150,000, she said.
“We have never said we are self-sufficient,” Sorensen said.
SARC offers special promotions
Purchase a SARC 2014 fitness plan now and receive extra perks through the end of the year.
• Sign up for an annual membership, monthly payment plan at 2014 rates and receive the remainder of 2013 free. First payment will be taken on Jan. 2, 2014
• Register and pay for an annual pass and receive an additional 13th month for free (the extra month is valid only for annual passes paid in full)
• Get 20-visit punch cards at reduced rates for your family, friends or yourself. Buy an adult pass for $110 (save $30) and/or youth pass for $65 (save $15)
In addition to the three specials highlighted above, SARC is providing new fitness plan choices in 2014.
For more information, call 683-3344 or see www.sarcfitness.com.
SARC is at 610 N. Fifth Ave.