Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Revenue & Memberships Plummet After Recreation Center Fee Increases

Seniors, The Poor and Bronx Residents Hit The Hardest

In yet another Bloomberg park revenue deal that has cost the taxpayers money the city lost  $ 200, 000 last year - and more than 50, 000 memberships after the city imposed dramatic fee increases for recreation centers.

As predicted the large fee inceases initiated last year by the Mayor for Parks Department recreation services has resulted in a dramatic decrease in public usage and revenue.

Recreation centers serve the poor, middle and working class in the city for the most part.

Senior-citizen membership dropped by more than half as seniors saw their recreation center membership fees rise by 150% - from $10 to $25. Adults saw their fees increased by 100%, from $50 to $100 for centers without an indoor pool, and from $75 to $150 for centers having an indoor pool.

NYC already ranks dead last in the provision of recreation centers for a high density city

In 2011 the Bloomberg administration quietly pushed through massive recreation fee increases for Parks Department recreation facilities as well as tennis and ballfield permits.

For the second time since 2003, Mayor Bloomberg doubled the cost for a seven-month tennis permit in city parks. In February 2011 tennis fees were quietly raised to $200 from 
$ 100. In 2003 the price was $ 50. Single-play more than doubled from $7 to $15. 

- Geoffrey Croft


Who put these people in charge of the green?
In a remarkable feat of fiscal stupidity, the city Parks Department lost $200,000 last year after it doubled fees at 32 neighborhood recreation centers, according to the New York Post.
Records show that more than 50,000 people shed their memberships during the 12-month period beginning July 1, 2011, when the annual admission charge for adults soared from $50 to $100, and from $75 to $150 for facilities with pools.
That’s cheap by private health-club standards, but it had a devastating impact on the lower-wage population that gravitates to the city’s more affordable workout centers.
Half of the 36,153 senior-citizen members bailed out when their entry fee jumped from $10 to $25.
The membership roll of 79,357 other adults shrunk to 44,877 in the same period.
To top off the fiasco, revenues fell from $4,548,552 in fiscal 2011 to $4,335,973 in fiscal 2012 — $212,579 less than before the increase.
“There’s only so much you can squeeze people,” said City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), chairwoman of the Parks Committee. “It’s obvious the pricing policy was not effective.”
When they first proposed the hike in 2010, parks officials estimated recreation-center enrollment would fall by 5 percent. It ended up plummeting 44.5 percent, giving weight to the argument that raising taxes or fees too much can backfire.
“This was a stupid move from day one,” declared parks advocate Geoffrey Croft.
He pointed out that Mayor Bloomberg has been pushing New Yorkers to adopt a healthier lifestyle by watching what they eat and by exercising — which thousands abandoned last year because of the higher cost.
“It’s beyond ironic,” observed Croft.
The Bronx, the borough with the poorest residents and the highest unemployment rate, saw the largest dip. Attendance there fell from 295,007 to 237,858.
Parks officials stood by their decision, claiming that overall attendance at the recreation centers remained stable at about 3.1 million thanks to a jump of almost 30 percent in visits by “nonmembers.”
Kids attend without charge, as do those who take part in no-fee exercise sessions.
“Hundreds of free Shape Up classes and other programs may have influenced some active New Yorkers who opted to use free classes and not renew for a full membership,” said Parks spokeswoman Vickie Karp. She insisted that even at the higher price, the centers are “still one of the best bargains in town and a great value.”
Read More:
New York Post - September 26, 2012 - By David Seifman

A Walk In The Park - March 7, 2011 - Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - March 18, 2011

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