By Pat Bywater
WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP —
Efforts to market sponsorships with varying levels of access to the Meadville Area Recreation Complex are underway.
Representatives of the complex attended the recent meeting of the West Mead Township Board of Supervisors to update supervisors on efforts to improve the complex’s financial standing. West Mead is one of three municipalities — along with Vernon Township and the City of Meadville — and the Crawford Central School District that finance the complex’s operation. The long-term viability of the complex came into question last year when the school district moved to eliminate its swimming program and, along with it, its payment to the complex. Public concern kept that from happening and the district restored the swimming program and much of its payment. In addition, a group calling itself the Community Action Team formed to help ensure the complex’s future by working with the complex’s managers, members of the Meadville Area Recreation Authority.
The two groups’ first goal is stabilizing the complex’s finances by filling the gap of about $100,000 left by the school district cutting back; the second goal is working on new programming and ideas that will stimulate new interest in the complex.
Soliciting sponsorships is the first step in stabilizing the complex’s finances for the next three years as ideas are developed to increase use and revenue, Roger Gildea, vice chairman of the Meadville Area Recreation Authority, explained to the supervisors.
Authority Chairman Joe McDougal said talks were underway with several large businesses and institutions. He said financial commitments have been made by several and that a multi-year commitment has been made by one. He declined to provide names and specifics until the agreements are complete.
Recreation Complex Operations Manager Chris Nuzback said she is finalizing sponsorship package plans that will be made public and offered to businesses and organizations across the area.
McDougal said the idea of businesses buying sponsorships so their employees automatically have access to the complex can fit with wellness programs many organizations have adopted in an effort to keep health insurance costs low. He also said that some businesses have found that the sponsorship may help them meet mandates of the new health care law.
Gildea said the complex is also already working on plans to expand its offerings in an effort to attract new interest and revenue. One idea that appears to have generated a good deal of interest is using some of the complex’s nearly 50 acres as community gardens, drawing in participation from the public, the culinary arts program at the nearby Crawford County Career and Technical Center and students at the nearby Meadville area middle and high schools.
Gildea also said it appears that the complex may work with Allegheny College to collaborate on grant application submissions.
“There are a lot of positive things going on,” Gildea said.
“We are starting to see the tide turn somewhat,” McDougal said.
MARC officials recently provided a similar presentation to Vernon Township supervisors.
Pat Bywater can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can learn more about purchasing a sponsorship of the Meadville Area Recreation Complex by contacting Operations Manager Chris Nuzback at 724-6006, 720-3086 or email@example.com.