Greenfield and its neighboring communities will soon have options to participate in recreational activities other than those provided by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
After a discussion that was at times heated and lasted nearly an hour, the Greenfield School Board unanimously approved Superintendent Conrad Farner’s recommendation to authorize the administration to pursue “revenue-generating activities through community-service based activities" for one year at Monday’s board meeting.
The district will now move forward with its plan to offer adult activities including volleyball, softball, kickball, soccer and dodgeball with possible future additions including fitness classes, yoga, Zumba and cooking lessons.
The Parks and Recreation Department offers adult volleyball and softball, as well as fitness and health programs, leading some board members to question why the district would do the same.
“Many citizens of Greenfield rely on the Park and Rec Department,” board treasurer David Richlen said. “If we take all their revenue-makers and switch them over here to the high school and the Greenfield School District, I’m worried the Greenfield Park and Rec Department won’t have the money for their other programs for the citizens.”
Richlen suggested the district generate revenue by continuing to rent out facilities such as the high school’s pool and performing arts center and that the district “come up with some programs that aren’t in competition” with the city’s, such as the approved adult soccer program.
“I don’t think it’s good for the citizens, I don’t think it’s good for us, and I don’t think it’s very smart,” Richlen said. “I think we can work better together.”
School Board president Bruce Bailey said the board has to do what is best for the district’s students but also expressed concern with what duplication could mean.
“My fear is that you take over this much stuff, you could be sealing the end of park and rec,” he said.
According to a report Farner submitted to the board Jan. 10, the renting of district facilities, such as the high school pool and auditorium, and the implementation of the adult activities could raise approximately $280,000 per year.
“All we’re trying to do is generate revenue for the district,” Farner said. “They are our facilities. We should be looking out for what’s in the best interests of the district.”
Bailey said members of the Parks and Recreation Board feel the school district is taking over and not being cooperative.
“I don’t understand that (claim),” Farner said. “We have worked with people. Just because someone comes and says there’s a lack of cooperation, I guess you have to question that. … we’ve been working around them. We’ve been talking to them about their schedule. We’ve been trying to do things in cooperation with them.”
Farner said the district subsidizes approximately $50,000 per year for parks and rec programs and allows the department to use district facilities.
“I can’t imagine anything more cooperative than that,” he said. “They don’t have to worry about costs to their facilities because they’re using ours for free.
“I think they view us as a potential threat; (that) is my guess. If they see us as competition, that’s their issue. But that’s not where we’re coming from.”