“We are counting everyone who walks in the doors,” Carl Bergquist, Green Lake Community Center Recreation Leader told me. “This is total foot traffic, so if they walk in, leave and come back again they should sign in again.”
Carl says that signing in will take just a few seconds of time, and no personal information is requested. “People just need to indicate their age group, the approximate time, and their initials,” Carl says. “That’s it.”
The pilot project, which will last two weeks, will help Parks staff respond to a City Council directive to reconsider how community centers are operated. After two weeks Parks will evaluate the information and decide whether to extend it for 10 more weeks. The evaluation process began with a public meeting on Feb. 2. (You can read more about the re-visioning process that Parks is undertaking here.)
The directive comes in the context of the budget: the cost to run the 26 community centers far exceeds revenue brought in from center programs. Because of the current difficult budget situation, Parks is exploring alternatives that would offer continued services for the public, while reducing costs, including new methods of management, staffing, fundraising, and partnerships. Learning the average age groups, frequency of visits, and numbers of people visiting community centers each day will help this work.
Parks has also convened a Community Center Advisory Team comprised of community members, representatives from the Board of Park Commissioners, representatives of employee unions, employees, the Associated Recreation Council, and City Council and City Budget Office staff.
Parks staff are in the process of using the public input to develop options, and Parks will hold another public meeting in the spring to get input on those specific options.