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Park Board to decide on new home for Mason City Recreation Department

Mason City Senior Center
Mason City Senior Center

MASON CITY – The Mason City Park Board will likely decide the new home for the city’s Recreation Department at its meeting Tuesday evening, April 14.

Brian Pauly, Superintendent of Recreation, told NIT today that he thinks he’s found a home for his department, currently located at 710 N. Washington Avenue, but forced to move since the building owner refused to renew a lease with the city.

“I believe we will be in the Senior Center but the board will make the choice tomorrow,” he said.

Here is a memo that Mr. Pauly provided today that explains the options the board must consider for selecting a new location:

Recreation Department Memorandum
To: Parks and Recreation Board
From: Brian Pauly, Superintendent of Recreation
Date: April 1, 2015
RE: Office Space
I would recommend the board approve a lease agreement from the Senior Center.

The current offices of the Mason City Recreation Department at the former Washington School.
The current offices of the Mason City Recreation Department at the former Washington School.

Since December 2014, I have walked through 11 different possibilities for office/storage/programming space for the Recreation Department. Below are the three scenarios which could possibly support our program until The Multi-Purpose Center is built or decided upon.

Background: We currently moved into our office location at 710 North Washington Ave in April, 2012. Our current monthly rental is $750.00 and 18 percent of the building utilities along with snow removal, lawn care and landscaping upkeep, and improvements (Handicap Bathroom) on the north side of the building that was made in 2012. If you look at true rental cost per month it is $2,074.52.

Current True Cost of Rent:

Cost Times Total
Rent $750.00 36 $27,000.00
Utilities $437.05 36 $15,733.80
Lawncare $35.00 48 $1,680.00
Snow Removal $50.00 98 $4,900.00
Bathroom $25,369.00 1 $25,369.00
Total $74,682.80
Divided By # Month 36
True Monthly Charge $2,074.52


Options for Lease Space

Office Storage Childcare Other Sub Difference
City Hall $0 $2,400 $2,475 $9,150 $14,025 -$225
Senior Center $18,000 $0 $0 $0 $18,000 -$4,200
YMCA/City Hall $0 $2,400 $6,000 $9,150 $17,550 -$3,750

Areas that are strongly impacting my decision making are the following:
1) Child care space for the Fun N Sun Program;
2) Storage space for office files and recreation equipment;
3) Other programming space that we currently use our location for and
4) Continuing to deliver the high quality services the department produces.

Option 1:
The department would have to be located in two different locations. Our office space would be in City Hall. When human rights moved out of their former offices on the 2nd floor, the Blues Zones Work Team moved in. We could move the Blue Zones Projects work team of Angie Determan and her volunteer staff into the Human Rights Office (Room 204) and work station in front of the office. Then, I would take Angie’s Office, I would put both my programmers in the Conference Room D for their work station, and I would set up the rest of the 204 Suite area as the Front Desk area for the Recreation Department. I have two main reasons for moving the Blue Zones instead of putting the Front Registration Areas in the old Human Rights office: 1) The Recreation Department is all together and does not have to walk through anyone’s work space to work together. 2) Six times a year during peak times (approximately 900 people come through our doors in a two and a half week time frame) during our registration deadlines, we can run four customers deep (on average and I believe we can “contain” our customers in one area verses making them wait in the hallway of City Hall. This will also help stop children running in the offices of Human Resources, Engineering, and meeting help in Conference Room A (which currently occurs at Mohawk Square and at our current location).

Our storage would be at the Chamber of Commerce in two different storage areas. One obstacle would be the availability to accessing our sports and activity equipment outside the hours from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, keeping in mind that a number of items that we need emergency access to are outside that time frame.

Our Fun N Sun Program would be located at the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army has a medium sized gym, green space outside, and a playground. Fun N Sun can run everything at this location, like we currently do at our facility. The major negative to the Salvation Army would be the location. The Fun N Sun currently walks everywhere with the kids on our fields trips. There would be little options for walking fieldtrips at the Salvation Army.

Pros: It is the cheapest option of the three, staff will be at City Hall so no travel time for meetings held at City Hall, space for coaches meetings, partnering with the Salvation Army and the Fun N Sun Program could have a nice location with a gym space.

Cons: If Blues Zone does not relocate, the department will be separated by another department. The high volume of patrons and noise pollution could affect other departments and the work flow in City Hall, as well as carrying sports equipment down stairs to storage (storage units are not available 24/7). We will have to find a way to hand out sports equipment to volunteer coaches during 8 am to 5 pm. We will need to find an alternative place with water and sinks to clean equipment after season use. The Fun N Sun program will be at an offsite location without a Recreation Programmer on location. I believe the quality of the program could decline to not having office staff on location. Lastly, there will be a hidden rise in transportation expenses due to an isolated location for field trips.

Option 2:
It is the same as number one, however we would “partner” with the YMCA. The current proposal with the Y would be a joint childcare program. The Y would hire all of our staff, handle all registration and billing, manage the staff, the program would be located at the Y, and we would provide a Recreation Programmer to assist for free. After all the expenses are taken out, the Y would give us half of the profits. We currently profit around $18,000 in our Fun N Sun program. This money helps offset the Before and After School Care Program, our community special events, and helps offset the pool budget. After reviewing the numbers from our program, the YMCA could net $10,000 to $12,000 for our summer program, this would result in a net loss of approximately $6,000 to the Recreation Department. The YMCA has only agreed to this for one year. After the agreed upon year, the future of the program is uncertain.

Pros: Staff will be at City Hall, so no travel time for meetings at City Hall. We will have space for meeting coaches as well as meeting and partnering with a local Y.

Cons: If Blues Zone does not relocate, the department will be separated by another department. The high volume of patrons and noise pollution could affect other departments and the work flow in City Hall, as well as carrying sports equipment down stairs to storage (storage units are not available 24/7). We will have to find a way to hand out sports equipment to volunteer coaches during 8 am to 5 pm. The department will be handing over a profitable program to an outside organization. We lose control of the childcare program, and staff might not come back and work for us after leaving the program to work for the Y. Most importantly, we will be losing money by giving the Y our program for the first year. There is no guarantee we will share revenue in the future or even get the program back. With the Before and After School Programs growing and the profits we are making from Childcare, we could lose control of the program and might need to find a funding gap of $18,000 in our budget or make cuts unless this is back filled with tax dollars. The areas that would be affected with these cuts would be Pool Operations and our community wide special events.

Option 3:
The Recreation Department would move into the Westside of the Senior Center on 4th Street Northeast. We could move everything we hold at our current office the Senior Center. We would have enough room for onsite childcare, storage, a larger room that can converted to three different work spaces for the programs, a built in reception area for our front desk, and a director’s office. In addition, we would gain three more bathroom stalls. Childcare and other programs would be divided up in to two joining areas. This allows us to run different programs such as Tumbling and our Cheerleading Program at the same time. This space could provide us the opportunity to grow our minicamp programs. We will also see time and transportation cost savings at this location to East Park and the Aquatic Center. In addition, there is talk about the possibility to grow our Before and After School Care, and that would translate into growing our Fun N Sun Program. This location would provide us the space needed for these programs growth. This space will accommodate all of our staff and coaches meetings. The Parks and Recreation Board would like, it could also utilize this location for their monthly Board Meetings.

Pros: Everything would be at one location. Childcare would be on site, giving us the opportunity to run multiple programs at one time as well as expand our senior programs. Storage is accessible 24/7. In partnering with the community senior center, they want a ten year lease with the option if the city builds a recreation center/office space for us we can opt out. The location would be close to downtown and centrally located in the City. The reduction in transportation cost and accessibility on foot to many other city facilities is a big plus.

Cons: The price is highest of the three options, but is still lower than our current true rental cost.

My recommendation would be to go with Option 3, renting from the Senior Center. This option would give us the same type of building that we currently have offices and programming in. I believe that moving childcare offsite would lower the quality of program. Storage that is controlled by the department and having access 24/7 would be a stress relief for my staff and would continue to lower the hours of our seasonal staff as well as continue to allow more time for my programmers to focus on other topics rather than transporting materials and equipment from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily. Most importantly, we would be able to keep our childcare programs under our control. Over the last two years we have seen a 19% increase in our Fun N Sun numbers and a 25% increase in our Before and After School Care. I believe that this is because of our high quality program that is offered at a very competitive rate. By having the program at the Senior Center location, we would be able to continue to provide a high quality service while maintaining our current fee structure. Partnering with the Y would hinder the quality program we have in place as well as the hope of growing our program. More importantly, the lost revenue from the children programs would have to be make up with City Reserves or major cuts in the pool operation and our city wide special events. The monthly savings from moving the department from our current location to the senior center would be $574.52. I believe that the Senior Center location will provide the best location to provide efficient and effective services by of the Recreation Department.

Budget Impact:
A net saving for the city would be $574.52 a month. The additional monthly lease cost will be handled within the approved budget by reducing expenses on other line items. The reduction in kind services will allow staff to spend time in other areas of the City.

Board Action Requested:
I believe that is option will provide the best location to provide efficient and effective services out of the Recreation Department. I would recommend the board would approve a lease agreement with the Senior Center.

Brian Pauly, Superintendent of Recreation

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