Brunswick Recreation Center facing financial challenges heading into 2021

BRUNSWICK, Ohio — The Brunswick Recreation Center is facing a daunting 2021. Membership is down

BRUNSWICK, Ohio — The Brunswick Recreation Center is facing a daunting 2021.

Membership is down by nearly 50 percent from 2019, and proceeds from the center’s most recent membership sale in December 2020 are coming in $119,000 short of the previous year’s numbers.

Parks and Recreation Director John Piepsny shared the numbers at the most recent City Council Parks and Recreation Committee meeting Jan. 25.

“We had been talking about some kind of funding for the Rec Center, and the last I heard, Dr. (Anthony) Fauci is saying we may not have (COVID-19) herd immunity until late fall,” Piepsny said.

“Members are coming back at this time, but other at-home fitness options have become popular” since coronavirus closures began in 2020, he said.

Piepsny said the two-month closure of the Recreation Center beginning in March 2020 had a direct effect on a membership drop from 7,600 members in 2019 to 3,863 members at the end of 2020.

“But again, we are getting calls — people want to come back,” Piepsny said.

Ward 3 Councilwoman and Parks and Recreation Committee chair Valerie Zak asked Piepsny about the status of Recreation Center summer programming.

Piepsny said that, at this time, the city plans to host some programs, such as its summer camps. But these decisions, Piepsny said, are “fluid,” based upon state social distancing mandates.

Councilman-at-Large Joe Delsanter asked how state regulations differ for the Recreation Center and public school districts.

“Programs like the summer camps are important as part of children’s well care,” Delsanter said. “If schools are back in session, can the same processes be incorporated (into Recreation Center programs) the same way schools are?”

The state’s COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings are different for recreation centers than for schools, Piepsny said. A maximum of six persons are allowed to participate in any particular activity, he explained.

“So, you could play cards with a group of six kids at a table, but if you wanted to play kickball, you only could with that same six,” Piepsny said.

“We hope (the mandates) change going into spring. (For example) the governor’s orders just changed recently — you can now use the showers, but can’t use (communal) soap or shampoo — so it is interesting. We are trying to live within these parameters.”

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