Culver residents weigh in on MACRD plan
The Madras Aquatic Center Recreation District is meeting with communities and groups around Jefferson County to get feedback on the district and gain some vision for the future.
On Jan. 27, a team of MAC employees and consultant Courtney Snead met with community members in Culver to present information about the district and get residents' feedback on facilities and programs.
A small group allowed for a roundtable discussion, and topics included facility maintenance, fees and personnel issues.
Snead documented feedback on a poster, listing some strengths and weaknesses the group was discussing, including the pool itself being warmer than others and the facilities in general. People also mentioned that having recreational activities under one umbrella and centralized within the rec district made it far easier to get ahold of the proper people when they want to get involved.
Some of the weaknesses discussed included Culver residents paying an out-of-district fee and how some of the facilities are in disrepair and need to be maintained better.
"There's been nine executive directors in 13 years. Sometimes it is hard for an organization to get its feet under it when it's got that kind of turnover," said Snead, who has been hired as a consultant.
Snead's work, essentially evaluating the district's administrative systems and looking at ways for the district to improve, is funded through the Bean Foundation.
She said that although the district is not just the pool, a recreation district includes other programs besides aquatic programs, adding that within the district some people think the MAC should only operate the pool and not the recreation district.
"Part of what we are doing with this process is getting feedback from the community," she said. The board and staff are trying to determine what the community wants and expects from the MACRD. "What should the MAC be providing that the communities want to see?"
"Recreation programs in most districts subsidize the pool," Snead said during a short presentation at the meeting, noting that as an effort to grow the recreation programs within the district has been made, the money they generate that goes toward the pool itself has increased — which from a business standpoint makes sense.
The district's current strategic plan goes through 2022, and Snead said it is normal at the midway point to look at the plan and make sure it is still working and relevant.
She said they are using the review as an opportunity to get community input, take it to the board and either support the goals in place or make some suggestions about modifications.
She said that what she is seeing so far in the process is that they need to do some tweaking to some things, based on the feedback they are receiving and "hopefully make it really relevant."
"The board is awesome. They are excited to move us forward and really do some neat, and, I think, innovative things," Snead said.
They are going to continue holding meetings and will be sending out surveys to the community.
As far as Culver specifically, the group offered honest feedback at the meeting.
"We've lived in Jefferson County for 15 years, and we have lived in Culver for eight of those years, and it feels like once we made the shift here that it's like 'Oh, you're Culver,'" said Debbie Taylor.
"For me, when I was finishing out swimming lessons for my kids," she said, "it was like 'Ugh, I have to pay the out-of-district fee, and it was hard because I was an at-home mom with three kids going to swim lessons."
"And, I get it, I know we are out of the 509-J district," she said. "The taxes are different but I just felt like that it's hard for me."
Taylor said that as someone who used to live within the district boundaries and having paid into that for so long, the out-of-district fees can be frustrating to think about paying.
"The other thing was the facilities. When I did go, I felt like it was in disrepair," she said. "Here we had paid so much into the bond and so much into the taxes and then walk into the family changing room and tiles are off the floor," she said.
"It was frustrating to walk in and be like 'Well, what did I pay all that money for?'"
Krystin Case also feels frustrated by the rates. "I have kind of felt outed by the out-of-district fee as well because it is substantial when you factor in bigger families," she said.
However, that wasn't the biggest thing for Case. "I came here to mention home-schooling friendliness," she said. "So opening up the facility maybe during school days."
"Personally, my kids, we look for swim lessons, we look for activities to do during the day, and the home-schooling community through Madras and Culver is growing," she said. "A lot of us would much rather go through the Madras district for swim lessons and different things. Right now my kids are in swim lessons in Redmond, and their lessons are fabulous."
"My thought was, you guys are looking for revenue boosts and ways to connect with the community. Open up things to home-schoolers because they would much rather go that way and support Madras," Case said. "During the day. When kids are in school and there is nothing going on at the swim center and things like that."
The feedback from the meeting is already promoting some change and the MAC is now working on a schedule for home-schoolers.
At the end of the meeting after discussing strengths and weaknesses, Snead asked those present what they wanted to see from the district within the next one to five years, as well as the next 10 years.
In the short term, they wanted to see more home-school options, to see the district continue to bring more things under one umbrella with recreation and swim programs, better facility maintenance and a look at pricing. The group also said that they would like to see enrichment classes offered by the district, as well as activities like gymnastics or karate.
Regarding the longer term, there was a brief discussion about the possibility of Culver becoming part of the district and Culver schools partnering with the MAC for swim lessons, as well as expanding district facilities.
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