By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
Gainesville’s parks and recreation director Patrick McCage spoke at the recent Lions Club meeting Wednesday regarding the various local venues, recreational opportunities and responsibilities that come with his office.
McCage said that there are over 212 acres of park land that he has jurisdiction over and that 180 acres are currently developed.
Venues include the Leonard Park Aquatic Center, Leonard Park and the Frankie Schmitz traink, the civic center and the train depot.
During 2013, the most celebrated improvement to the park was the building of the new aquatic center.
“Due to the fact that Gainesville had a surplus of revenue in 2012, we were able to pay $2.4 million in cash for the new center,” McCage said.
“When we have a full 80 day season in 2014, it should cost an estimated $140,000 to operate the new pool.”
McCage said the average operating cost of the old pool that was built around 1945 was $70,000 for the months it was open. Revenue from pool users at the old facility was approximately $27,000 per month with the city supplementing a $45,000 deficit.
“With the shortened season this year from July 25 to Labor Day, the pool still brought in $45,000 ,” McCage continued. “We believe that with a full season next year, the increase in revenue will offset the higher operating cost of the new facility with the same $45,000 deficit the city has been paying before the new pool was built.”
The new pool did have a learning curve with new logistics and operating procedures.
“There are quite a few new valves and buttons to push in the new facility,” he said. “The old pool was a lot easier to run but this new pool is quite state-of-the-art.”
“We have a chair lift for those patrons in wheel chairs and a zero line entry so that the pool can be easily accessed by anyone.”
McCage said that the Leonard Park pavilion that was renovated was actually positioned on the site of the original pavilion built over 100 years ago.
“We were able to go in and renovate and upgrade the old building instead of tearing it completely down,” he said. “Last year, the pavillion earned $660 in rental fees last year.
The Frankie Schmitz train was dedicated in 2001 explained McCage and since then over 420,000 visitors have ridden the train.
“At a ticket price of $2 per ride, that train has brought in an estimated $840,000 to the city.”
McCage said that the “Home Grown Hero” walking trail has 120 trees planted on the trail since 2001 to honor medal of honor recipients and others . Once the 12 vacant spots left at the current location are filled, the city plans to continue the trail at Edison Park off of Broadway.
Not only are recreational activities for children available at the various Gainesville venues, there are plenty of activities for adults including various sports leagues such as baseball, basketball, skating, sand volley ball and others.
McCage said that he has been associated with the Gainesville Parks and Recreation for 14 years and he has loved every minute of it.
If anyone has any information or photos regarding the original pool dedication circa 1945 or the old pavilion being constructed around 1905, McCage would love to hear about it.
In other Lions Club news reported at the Wednesday meeting, the recent annual mop and broom sale earned profits of $884.04 for local projects.
By CATHY MOUNCE
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