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Membership in Claremont’s New Rec Center Beats Estimates

Claremont — The membership and revenue numbers for the new community center continue to exceed projections.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Hausler presented the latest figures for the center, which opened March 4, at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

City officials had expected the new center to draw 690 new memberships — for families or individuals. But so far, there are more than 1,400 memberships on the books. Those memberships comprise 3,249 individuals who use the center.

Hausler reported total net revenue through memberships of $289,000, which includes payments from those who are paying their membership monthly. The actual revenue received is $200,000 with another $8,240 received from daily passes.

Hausler also reported that Recreation Department revenues for March of $164,000 were more than double the $72,000 in expenses, though figures for the month are not final.

Some councilors were so pleased with the report there was brief mention of setting up a capital reserve account so when the center needs repairs and maintenance years down the road, the money will have been set aside.

But Hausler and City Manager Guy Santagate cautioned that it is far too early to consider a capital reserve because the membership numbers won’t be as strong in the months ahead. A lot of new members paid upfront, and won’t make another payment until they renew their memberships next year.

“We need to get through this fiscal year and a full calendar year to see how it plays out,” Hausler said.

He predicted the membership number will probably continue to climb some then fall back before finding a balance.

Santagate agreed with the concept of a capital reserve for replacement and repairs, but also said officials need more time to get a good reading on the center’s expenses and revenues.

“We will need more history,” he told the council.

On a related topic, the council accepted nearly $88,000 in two federal Homeland Security grants for tables, chairs and storage carts ($15,960) and the purchase and installation of an “air fiber” communications system ($61,782) for the community center, which has been designated as the city’s emergency shelter and emergency operations center.

Fire Chief Rick Bergeron said the air fiber system will provide a wireless link between the community center and City Hall for fire, police, finance and public works, allowing them to access the computer system’s main server at the emergency operations center.

“We will be able to operate under a unified command,” Bergeron said, adding that he has been in contact with the Red Cross and they have offered to locate a trailer here with cots and blankets to be used in case of an emergency.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at ogrady56@yahoo.com.