West Hartford Town Council Approves Recreation Fee Changes for Facilities, Senior Centers

Cornerstone Aquatics Center. Photo courtesy of the Town of West Hartford (we-ha.com file photo)

Changes to the fees at several West Hartford facilities are modest, and the complicated rate structure at Cornerstone Aquatics Center has been greatly simplified. 

By Abigail Albair, West Hartford Press Editor

Editor’s Note: This article appears courtesy of The West Hartford Press. For this and more news, see next week’s edition. To request a free, weekly copy, visit turleyct.com.

The Town Council approved rate changes at Cornerstone Aquatics Center, town senior centers, Buena Vista Golf Club, and Rockledge Golf Club at its meeting last week.

Director of Leisure and Social Services Helen Rubino-Turco told the Council on Tuesday, Dec. 12 that the changes were modest, but are what the market can support, and they are necessary to improve quality of services in many cases.

At Cornerstone, the new management team, HealthFitness, reviewed membership categories and pricing with town staff after coming on board this past summer.

As a result, multiple changes were recommended to “modestly increase revenue and simplify memberships … while adding value for members,” Town Manager Matt Hart wrote in a memo recommending the fee changes.

Two categories of membership will be established: a platinum membership for those who formerly held a swimming membership and a gold membership for those who formerly held a low usage membership.

Cornerstone currently has about 5,000 members.

The program pass will be eliminated and non-members will pay a higher rate for programs.

Annual dues for platinum members will increase approximately 4 to 5 percent for adults and 3 percent for seniors, from $467 to $485 and $411 to $425, respectively, for town residents. Family or household annual dues for regular residents will increase from $614 to $645, and the fee for senior resident couples would increase from $482 to $495. Platinum members will receive perks such as free fitness classes, free guest passes, and other amenities.

Annual dues for gold members will increase from $79 to $85 for an individual and $105 to $115 for a family and household, and gold members per visit fees will increase slightly. Gold members will be able to purchase discounted bulk passes and receive free fitness classes and increased low-usage hours.

The initiation fee for membership will be decreased from $55 for an adult and $39 for a senior citizen to $20 each. The family or household fee will decrease from $75 to $40 for a regular membership and from $55 to $40 for a senior citizen couple.

A discount for people with disabilities will remain and new discounts will be available for full-time students and active military members.

The age of an adult will be altered from under 21 to under 18, which would impact three current platinum members and 128 platinum families.

Group swim lesson fees will decrease about 80 cents per class for members as the lessons will now follow the American Red Cross standard of seven sessions per series rather than six. The price per group lesson will increase by $1 for non-members.

Minor reductions or increases are also proposed for visitors on a per swim basis.

“We’re just trying to upgrade things, make things more efficient and increase what you get for your membership,” Rubino-Turco said.

She noted an increase in the “allowable hours” for gold members as a “major perk.”

Changes will also be made to fees at the golf courses – which Rubino-Turco noted are “very modest, minor changes.”

Rockledge Golf Course will see a small increase of $1 for resident and non-resident 9-hole fees, but not for seniors. That change alone is expected to increase revenue by about $11,000.

A reduction of $2 for 18 holes and $1 less for 9 holes will be made for non-resident seniors and students. Discount passes will only be allowed for 18 holes and not 9 holes going forward.

At Buena Vista, an increase in greens fees of $1 for residents will be implemented and is expected to increase revenue by approximately $3,500.

Increases of $15, $10, and $5 will be made to the Golf Season Pass for individuals, seniors/students, and partial privileges season pass holders.

“This executive course has been underpriced, and we think the market can handle the increase,” Hart’s memo reads. “We also recommend eliminating the Corporate & Non-Resident Discount Pass, and instead offer one Discount Pass for residents, non-residents, and corporate golfers.”

The discount pass price will increase by $8 for residents but be reduced for others, the memo explains. The Junior Discount Pass will increase by $7.

At the town senior centers in Bishops Corner and Elmwood, there are more than 1,600 resident members and about 250 non-resident members.

Rates have not increased for a decade, and so an increase in membership fees from $10 to $15 will go into effect for residents. Non-resident fees will increase from $30 to $40. Fees for low cost programs will be eliminated.

Senior fitness membership fees will not change.

“All general fund budgets are under scrutiny, as they should be, and also have been subjected to some cuts, and, in order to be able to provide the programs that we want to as many residents and senior residents that we can, we did feel the time was right for increasing the fees,” Rubino-Turco said.

The changes will result in an increase in revenue of about $10,000. A Leisure Services Scholarship Fund will be available to residents who cannot afford the increase.

Despite the projected increase, Rubino-Turco assured, “It’s more about what we’re providing for our seniors than it is about the revenue that’s coming in.”

All proposed changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

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