Enquirer Herald

York Rec Center scales back open gym hours

YORK -- After a one-year trial period, the city of York decided last week to cut back open gym hours at the York recreation center on White Rose Lane.

"The attendance was low, and we haven't really had much volunteer support," said recreation department director Carolyn Leake.

Leake said effective this week, Friday and Saturday free play will be canceled and the recreation center will be available for rental. Sunday free play will continue as usual, from 2 to 6 p.m.

"Sunday attendance has been good," Leake said, adding that between 35 and 45 kids usually show up during the open gym time.

On Friday and Saturday, as few as four or five children and teens stopped by the center to play -- sometimes none at all Leake said.

The idea to extend open gym hours stemmed from a community forum following the murder of a York teen on California Street last year. Many said teens needed more places to participate in local activities, and city leaders thought the rec center's extended hours may help keep some teens out of trouble.

The extra hours cost an additional $100-200.

The open gym hours were always intended to be a one-year trial period and would be based on attendance, said city manager Charles Helms.

Helms said the extended hours will be back when school lets out next summer.

"We'll definitely bring it back in the summer," he said. "I think attendance will boost up and we'll have it back up on Friday and Saturday afternoons."

The recreation department has to rely on volunteers to help staff the open gym hours and is still in need of volunteer help on Sundays.

One recreation staff member is paid to be at the center during free play, but volunteers are needed to assist with supervision.

Leake said the staff pitched in to try and supervise all the open gym hours, but it was both the attendance and financial aspects of the program that caused it to be scaled back.

"We've all worked it at one time or another," she said. "We're just looking for the way to make the best use of the facility."