The Grand Park Community Recreation Center celebrated its tenth anniversary in December and has proven to be a thriving hub of activity for youth, families, senior citizens, civic organizations, tourists and much more.
The Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District (FVMRD) board, director and staff have strived to fulfill a foundational mission of providing recreational experiences for our residents and guests through innovative, quality programs and facilities that promote health and wellness. The vision to connect people with amazing experiences plays out every day throughout the district in a vibrant collection of community programs, activities and amenities.
The idea of a Community Recreation Center was initially brought to the voters in 1996 and then again in 2003 with facility design proposals that seemed to outweigh the needs of the community at the time. The early proposals were met with heavy opposition and the final proposal passed in 2007 by a narrow margin.
The Grand Park Community Recreation Center (GPCRC) was part of a bond issue that was passed in November 2007 for four community enhancement projects presented by the Recreation District. In addition to a new rec center, the projects included a new clubhouse and irrigation system at the Pole Creek Golf Club and improvements at the Fraser Valley Sports Complex that became the Icebox Ice Rink facility.
The GPCRC opened in December of 2009, featuring a natatorium with a 20-foot loop slide, spray and play feature, a lazy river, zero-depth entry pool and a four-lane, 25-yard lap pool. The center also includes a whirlpool, sauna and steam room, a climbing wall, a multi-sport gymnasium, and cardio, circuit training and free-weight area linked to a running/walking track.
The recreation facility we have today was made possible through a 4.92-acre parcel of land deeded for the facility by Grand Park. They also provided water, sewer and infrastructure components that made the project financially feasible. Grand Park, a company that has a history of community philanthropy through the Cornerstone Community Foundation, a 501(C)3 organization, estimated their contributions to be around $3.2 million in 2009. Grand Park President Clark Lipscomb said, “It took an army of people to complete the project. What a great community asset and we are proud and pleased to be a part of the vision.”
Scott Ledin, Director of Parks, Recreation & Golf for the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District (FVMRD) said, “A vibrant community recreation center is a valuable asset to any community.” Ledin has been with the FVMRD for more than 20 years and has been instrumental in leading the district through economical swings and community growth. “I believe we have done a good job meeting the needs of our community while maintaining a fiscally responsible organization.”
Ledin said, “Creating a budget with an unknown Goliath like a new recreation center was challenging. A lot of guesswork went into the initial budget, from estimating class sizes to utility bills.” Ledin has led the way encouraging a conservative approach as the district has navigated many unknowns throughout the years. Initially the Rec Center was expected to lose as much as $200,000 in its first year, but much like today, it has maintained a very high cost recovery year over year. In 2019 the cost recovery was 99.7%. Ledin said,”We are one of the few parks and recreation agencies in the region that reach that mark.”
Every community has a philosophy that directs their spending and subsidies. Ledin said the FVMRD has done many things to help the cost recovery over the years including charging additional fees for classes with instructors, personal training fees, gymnastic revenues, facility rental fees and fitness punch cards. These are all part of the bigger picture to help maintain our high standard of cost recovery.
Today the GPCRC hosts more than 150,000 visitors annually. Membership revenue in 2019 was $408,000, the punch cards brought in $141,000 and daily passes came in at $297,000 of the annual visit revenue totaling $847,747.
A shared vision and proactive approach to financial stability.
The FVMRD established an Asset Management Plan (AMP) in 2016 which is a tactical plan for managing the organization’s infrastructure and other assets so they can address the needs of the facilities, equipment and capital components in a timely manner. The plan basically takes everything in the building that is capitalized and a life term of two years or more and builds a timeline of expectancy and needs. The plan takes into account ongoing maintenance, replacement and even capital repairs. Ledin said, “We are at a point that the AMP is one of our best tools for forecasting future expenditures and staying on top of our daily operational needs.”
The district maintains a healthy reserve fund balance. Reserves act as a budget stabilization tool for Unassigned Reserves that softens the blow of economic downturns, budget shortfalls and other obstacles to the operating costs of the district. The FVMRD 2019 total reserves are estimated at $1.52 million, which includes all of the district assets and assigned capital reserves.
Ledin said, “We have a list of priorities that we have identified in our master plan and we are looking at each one independently.” At the board retreat in the fall, one of the top priorities identified by the board was a 3200 sq ft expansion of the Rec Center workout space. The cost estimate is $1.8 million. Ledin said they needed to secure grant funding, sponsorships and donations to move forward, but the reserve fund should help them leverage the money to make it happen fairly quickly. Other items identified in the Master Plan are completing the cart path paving project at Pole Creek, a possible new field house facility and potential for outdoor water opportunities and access to the river corridor.
In ten years, the GPCRC has become a centerpiece of our community and has helped develop a culture of physical wellbeing, mental health, and education. With intelligent programming and effective community outreach, our community recreation center has become a central component to our lifestyle and community engagement.
The FVMRD board, staff and director have helped create a financially sound, world class parks and recreation district that we can all be proud to support and enjoy. It is an exciting time in our community and it will be interesting to see what the next 10 years has in store for our beautiful mountain community.