Arnold city officials have reduced rates for the Recreation Center in an effort to attract new members now that the facility has reopened after its second closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city now has only one membership tier and four pricing categories for the rec center, 1695 Missouri State Road, and instead of charging non-Arnold residents an additional fee, the city will provide a 10 percent discount to city residents, as well as military veterans.
The new monthly rec center membership fees are $38 for a family of four, $27 for adults, $19 for senior citizens and $16 for children and students, City Administrator Bryan Richison said.
The new fee system eliminated the bronze and gold membership tiers, which provided different access to the facility and its outdoor pool. It also eliminated the 33 percent markup for non-city residents to be members.
“We are reducing the rates because the main goal is to boost membership and have people come and use and enjoy the rec center,” Richison said. “We hope this will spur a big increase in membership and people using the facility.”
Richison said Parks and Recreation Department staff members have been worried about getting members to return to the rec center because of COVID-19.
The rec center reopened Feb. 22 after being closed since Nov. 18, 2020. The rec center also was closed from March 18, 2020, through July 6, 2020, because of the virus.
Richison said he discussed the rec center membership fees with Mayor Ron Counts, who then organized two small meetings with some members of the City Council to get their input.
After those meetings, the City Council held a March 25 work session to discuss the rec center rates and agreed on the new pricing structure, which went into effect this month.
Richison said members with a yearly membership will be refunded the difference between the rate they joined under and the new discounted rates.
The rec center’s previous monthly rates for Arnold residents were $42 for families, $30 for adults, $21 for seniors and $18 for children and students. Non-Arnold residents paid $56 for families, $40 for adults, $19 for seniors and $25 for children and students.
That fee gave the member access to everything but the outdoor pool.
There also was a gold-level monthly membership, which included outdoor pool access, and that membership cost city residents $57 for families, $40 for adults, $26 for seniors and $23 for children and students. Non-residents paid $76 for families, $53 for adults, $35 for seniors and $31 for children and students for the gold membership.
Richison said city officials hope that by eliminating the non-resident fee, more people who live close to Arnold but not within the city limits will be encouraged to join the rec center, which features an indoor track, basketball courts, a workout area, along with an indoor and outdoor pool.
“There are a lot of people who live outside the city who feel they are part of the community,” Richison said. “They want to use it, but they were facing a pretty substantial markup. We hope it will be more attractive to people outside of the (city limits) because the new rates are significantly reduced compared to the older ones.
“We want everyone who wants to use the rec center to come. It is meant to benefit the public, and we want it to be used.”
He said the rec center currently has 269 memberships. He did not have information on how many of those members live in Arnold and how many do not live in the city.
Richison said the city had spent $736,159 on the rec center from Sept. 1, 2020, to March 10. He also said the facility had generated $670,707 in revenue during that period.
“When we were closed, we were not collecting membership fees or daily pass fees,” Richison said. “We also had lower expenses, and we weren’t paying instructors or part-time staff, so we had savings there.”
Another way city staff members hope to increase membership numbers is by offering classes, which have not resumed since the rec center’s recent reopening.
Richison said the city currently is looking for instructors to lead a variety of classes.
“I think there needs to be some fresh, new concepts and perhaps bring in new instructors,” Arnold Parks and Recreation director Dickie Brown said. “We want to expand our inventory of classes and expand the times we offer classes, including weekends. I think that will help get the rec center back on the map.”
Richison said under the new rate structure, members likely would have access to at least two classes as part of their membership dues. However, they would be charged for other classes and special events, such as Nerf Wars and Breakfast with Santa.