By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The competition from other fitness sites in the city may be leading to some thin pass sales at the Bowling Green Community Center. “It just boggles my mind that we don’t have more people in there. It’s such a marvelous facility,” Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards said during the monthly Park and Recreation Board meeting Tuesday evening. Pass sales so far this year at the community center total $169,114. That’s a drop from last year’s pass sales at this time totaling $196,070. The number of passes sold this year is 1,134 – 215 fewer than last year at this time. Each month this year, the numbers have shown a drop. “I’ve been concerned with the figures we get every month from parks and recreation,” City Council member Sandy Rowland said. A task force has been set up to study how community center membership might be increased, how visibility can be improved, and how the appearance can be updated. On that task force are park and rec board president Jeff Crawford and board member Cale Hover. “It’s going to affect revenue if we don’t do some things,” Hover said. The mayor, who recently officiated at the ribbon cutting of the newest fitness center in town – Planet Fitness – urged the task force to look at other facilities, especially community-supported centers. Long-time member of the Bowling Green Community Center, Frank McLaughlin, suggested that the reduction in hours at the community center did not help with attendance and pass sales. Some of the new facilities in town are open 24/7, and most are less expensive. “Clearly there’s a lot of competition in town,” he said. McLaughlin said he would prefer to remain a member of the community center, but fewer hours and greater costs make it difficult. “It worries me. I’d rather not bail on that facility.” McLaughlin also reminded the board that as a public body its meeting agendas and minutes should be posted for public viewing on the city’s website. He made that same suggestion earlier this year to the board. Rowland suggested that the parks and rec department make more free time for kids available at the community center, especially in the winter time. “If we want to attract millennials, it’s a good idea to look at younger users,” she said. Rowland stressed that her comments were not criticisms. “I’m worried about our reports,” she said. After the meeting, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley said the dips in community center memberships are somewhat misleading. Pass holders represent just a portion of the overall usage of the facility, she said. Earlier this year, BG Independent News ran a story about the increasing number of fitness centers in Bowling Green. There are many similarities at the gyms – lots of equipment for those who prefer solitary exercise, or classes in spinning, zumba or pilates for those who thrive on group motivation. There are some differences at each location. The community center has a track, basketball and volleyball courts. St. Julian’s Fitness has free classes with memberships and is the official Silver Sneaker location in the city. Anytime Fitness is open round the clock and allows use of any other Anytime Fitness in the world. BGSU Recreation Center has a couple indoor pools….
Bowling Green Community Center
By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It’ll be Friday night lights out a littler earlier at the Bowling Green Community Center starting Feb. 3. At Tuesday’s Parks and Recreation Board meeting, Director Kristin Otley announced the center will close at 7 p.m., instead of 9 p.m. A census of usage found an average of eight people using the facility from 7 to 8 p.m. and two using it from 8 to 9 p.m. Few people use the facility at that time, but the lights still have to be on and three staff members have to be on duty. It costs the center $91 an hour to stay open. The change will save the department about $8,100 annually. This will mean the center is open 91.5 hours from January through the day after Memorial Day, and 87.5 hours a week during the summer. Tim Stubbs, facilities coordinator, said the change “has been on the backburner for years,” and the administration finally decided “pull the trigger.” Some people question the reduction given the department just passed a levy, but Otley said “we still need to be good stewards of those tax dollars.” Mayor Dick Edwards asked if the department was looking at ways to increase usage. He noted that income is down even though the center always gets “glowing reports” from the public. Otley said that competition has increased as other fitness centers have entered the market, and “Bowling Green is the same size it was.” Ivan Kovacevic, the recreation coordinator, said a drop off in attendance is evident whenever a new center opens. Stubbs said sometimes other facilities offer reduced rates to start. Once the rates return to normal, some people leave. “In my experience we’ll pick some of these people back up,” he said. Otley also said that the Silver Sneakers program, which encourages older people to exercise, is a good deal for the participants, but it can cost the recreation center revenue. If a senior citizen buys a pass to the Community Center, the center gets the money no matter how many times the member visits. With Silver Sneakers, the center only gets the $2.50 reimbursement whenever the senior swipes their card. If the senior visits eight times a month, that’s fine, but if they only come twice a month, that’s lost income. Otley said the department is looking at increased programming to attract seniors to the facility. Stubbs said that with the first phase of the improvements at Wintergarden completed, planning is underway on the second phase. The initial building plans didn’t have what the department was looking for so new plans are being drawn up. Otley handed out the schedule of fees for the aquatic center with the intent of having a discussion about fees in February. City Council would have to approve any changes in the fees in March for them to take effect this summer. Kovacevic reported that Aquatic Center usage was up over 20 percent in 2016 with 46,291 people using the pool. Increases were seen both in those with season passes and in those paying daily fees.
By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Gail Christofferson’s community mosaics are made from thousands of bits of glass, and by thousands of hours of work by hundreds of community members. Some will trim and sort thumbnail-size bits of glass. Some will glue those down in preordained patterns. And some to create those designs. When all is done, Christofferson hopes to have as many as 50 20-inch-by-20-inch glass mosaic panels. Those panels will provide an artistic solution to a problem at the Bowling Green Community Center’s lobby. Now, explains Kristen Otley, the director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, at certain times of day in certain seasons, the staff members working at the main desk are blinded by the sunshine. That makes it difficult for those trying to serve the public during those times. Right now there are shades up. But Otley envisioned something else. She knew Christofferson from the workshops the artist has presented for Parks and Recreation. In 2011 and 2012 Christofferson facilitated the creation of a mural at the new Otsego Elementary school. Since then she’s turned to glass work full time and worked on about more 10 mosaic projects, as well as smaller work notably her mosaic guitars. Otley said they talked about it for a couple years. It always came down to where the money would come from. They decided to team up with the Kiwanis Club, and working with Alisha Nenadovich, they requested funds from the Bowling Green Community Foundation. It’s the kind of project the foundation likes, Otley said. Something that involves the whole community. The mosaic project was awarded a $5,000 grant. That’s enough for 20 panels, Christofferson said. “Visually my ideal is 50 squares.” She hopes to find donors to sponsor a square or two or several. The price is for $250 a single square with the price per square declining to five squares for $1,000. She plans to send out a fundraising appeal in the fall. After the summer, she’ll be able further gauge how far along the project is. Those sponsoring the panels, can design them, subject to approval of Otley and the artist. (Logos are not permitted.) They can also help put them together. The assembly is a community endeavor. That part of the project was kicked off at Art in the Park in June. The design began earlier. Christofferson worked with high school art students to design some panels. Several designs had to be rejected because they made explicit references to companies, and a few were too complicated to execute in a community setting. But a number will find their way into the project. Christofferson then transfers the designs to plates of tempered glass. She marks out the areas and what color glass will go in that area. Much of the glass is scrap acquired from Bigelow Glass in Findlay. That the project has this element of recycling and reuse makes it all the more fitting for the city, she said. The Conneaut Art Club helped with sorting the pieces of glasses and nipping them to the proper size. That’s a job that needs a lot of hands to accomplish. “If I did all that, my hands would probably fall off.” Then when it comes time to assemble, she applies an adhesive, and people patch together jigsaw…