The Astoria Aquatic Center will hold all the city’s fitness classes once it reopens, while the city is moving scholarships for lower-income patrons toward a daily drop-in pass distributed through community service organizations.
A 2016 master plan for the Astoria Parks and Recreation Department recommended consolidating services as the city tries to attract more users and increase revenue, City Manager Brett Estes told the City Council last week. The Astoria Recreation Center will transition to hosting child care services as the city’s budget allows, he said.
Jonah Dart-McLean, the city’s parks director, said the city doesn’t have a timeline for reopening either facility. The reopening of the aquatic center will depend on how much revenue the city collects from lodging taxes that help subsidize the operation.
“We’re hoping to be able to offer some form of care in conjunction with school restarting, but that timeline is still being determined,” McLean said.
The City Council also ended the quarterly passes the Astoria Parks, Recreation and Community Foundation had been gifting to lower-income patrons.
The foundation began formulating a new model after the annual cost of scholarships ballooned from $6,000 to $46,000 over the past several years, as well as finding the average user of the quarterly pass wasn’t utilizing the aquatic center enough to warrant the cost.
By August, the city had put new scholarships on hold while looking for a more realistic funding model. The city has planned for a more sustainable program with around $16,000 a year committed by the foundation.
McLean said the city will charge the foundation $2.75 per daily drop-in pass, half the usual cost minus $1. The recipient will pay $1 per drop-in. The aquatic center’s market-rate fees will remain the same, including fitness classes as space allows.
“If the classes are popular and in consistent high demand, we may consider adding a separate fee in the future,” he said. “Our goal is to highlight the aquatic center as a focal point for community fitness and healthy activities year-round by increasing the offerings there.”
Kassia Nye, the president of the foundation, said the foundation hopes to reach out to social service groups and start the drop-in voucher program by the time the aquatic center reopens.
“I’m fascinated to see what’s going to happen, because we don’t know,” she said. “We don’t know if this will be a huge flop, or if it will be a huge success — hopefully the latter.”
Nye reached out to Jennifer Holen, the executive director of the United Way of Clatsop County, about which organizations could use the day passes.
“It’s going to add a whole new element of awareness to the community, but the parks foundation is really excited to find … our partner agencies in this too,” Nye said.
The foundation’s primary fundraiser, the Run on the River in May co-sponsored by Buoy Beer Co., saw about half the participants and revenue after going virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nye was still heartened by the response to the virtual race and the future of the fundraiser.
“When everything shut down and we made the decision to go virtual, that third week of March, we still had over 100 people sign up,” she said. “There were some who decided not to participate and donate all of their registration fee to the foundation. There were some who decided to roll over their registration fee to 2021. Very few people requested a refund.”