Goodyear residents planning to use the city’s new recreation campus when it opens this summer have several admission options, including a $75 promotional pass for individuals and families valid through the end of the year.
The Goodyear City Council voted 6-1 during its regular meeting Jan. 25 to approve the 75th anniversary pass promotion presented by Parks and Recreation Deputy Director David Seid and Recreation Superintendent Mike Beadle, and to authorize a transfer of up to $50,000 in contingency funds to cover the costs.
“By having affordable pass options in addition to discounts and our scholarship program, we feel there’s an option for everyone in the community to enjoy these facilities,” Mr. Seid said during the presentation.
Goodyear provides recreation scholarships and other fee assistance for eligible residents, and a 15% discount for active-duty and former military and immediate family members in their households.
Vice Mayor Bill Stipp, who has argued resident passes should be free for the first year, cast the lone “no” vote. Mayor Georgia Lord and Councilors Wally Campbell, Brannon Hampton, Laura Kaino, Sheri Lauritano and Joe Pizzillo voted in favor.
“Seventy-five dollars may not seem like a big deal to most of us, but for the people who are using that $75 to put food on the table, it’s a big deal. This may be the only thing these people get to do in this particular calendar year,” Mr. Stipp said before the vote. “We can talk about all the scholarships we want, but there are people who still need it. The fact that this has been paid for with taxpayer money, it does not hurt us to offer at least a three-month trial period.”
During their regular meeting Jan. 4, the council approved a recreation fee and facilities rental schedule, with Mr. Stipp dissenting. Councilors asked recreation staff to look at discount options for residents.
Beginning in 2022, annual residential passes will be $200 for youth ages 3 to 17, $250 for seniors 55 and older, $300 for adults 18 to 54 and $600 for families of two or more living in the same household. Non-resident passes, which are now in effect, are double the price of resident passes.
Day, 10-visit, monthly and semi-annual pass fees also are included in the fee schedule, which can be viewed below:
“The one constant theme that council shared was fee relief due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Seid told the council Jan. 25. “When staff explored fee relief, we focused on incentives for families, discounts for families, free trials for facilities and ensuring that fees were not a barrier to participation.”
Mr. Beadle said the staff conducted a thorough analysis of options before settling on what it calls the 75th anniversary COVID-19 relief promotion pass granting access to all grand opening promotions, unlimited access to the recreation and aquatics centers and to group fitness.
Financial impact of the promotional pass program on Goodyear’s budget is estimated between $77,000 and $160,000, which includes a $52,000 to $110,000 drop in previously anticipated revenue from pass sales, and increased expenses of $25,000 to $50,000 to bring in additional part-time staff for check-ins and cleaning, Mr. Beadle said.
Free pass options explored ranged from one to seven months, with estimated budget impacts of $18,000 to $35,000 for one month, $54,000 to $105,000 for three months and $122,000 to $244,000 for seven months.
Mr. Beadle said the staff decided to recommend the promotional pass because it ties in with the city’s 75th anniversary celebration, which kicked off Jan. 22 and runs through Nov. 19. The pass assigns value to the new facilities and will enable staff to manage passes and alleviate potential overcrowding.
“When an amenity like this is free, people don’t have to have a reason to be there. When people purchase a pass, they’re there to recreate,” he said.
Passes will provide access to the recreation center’s two-court multipurpose gymnasium, elevated walking track, fitness/weight training areas, introductory group fitness classes; to the aquatics center’s lazy river, play pool, eight-lane lap pool, cabanas, shade and seating areas and 28-foot dual slide; and to introductory group fitness classes, Mr. Seid said.
The public will have free access to a teen activity space and a lounge area with Wi-Fi, restrooms and the campus’ community park, which will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily.
Mr. Beadle told the council in addition to a ribbon-cutting, the recreation campus’ grand opening celebration is expected to include a free week’s admission, activities, facilities tours, demonstrations, giveaways, promotions and pass sales.
While Mr. Stipp disagreed with charging for initial passes, he thanked the staff for analyzing multiple options.
“I know that it’s been a lot of effort,” he said.
The other council members also weighed in, agreeing there is a need for a paid pass.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable if it was a place where people could loiter,” Councilwoman Sheri Lauritano said. “I think the $75 is fair, especially since we have an option that nobody is left out.”
Councilman Joe Pizzillo said he also agreed $75 is fair, and asked how passes will be issued.
Mr. Beadle said the city will offer an app that will allow residents to download the pass to their phones for touchless check-in, as well as a wallet card for those who don’t prefer to use their phone.
“I love the $75 charge only because it really is tying in to our celebration. You have offered scholarships to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of our residents; this is not something new,” Councilwoman Wally Campbell said. “I have never heard of a family being turned away from anything as far as recreation, softball or football or whatever if they could not afford it. Somehow you have magically been able to provide for them, and I want to thank you for doing that. We’re really taking care of our own people.”
Councilman Brannon Hampton said he wouldn’t mind extending the free week grand opening access to two weeks while people decide whether they want to purchase the anniversary pass.
“I’m really excited about this facility,” he said. “I keep showing my kids the water slide from afar.”
In response to a question by Mr. Hampton, Mr. Beadle said those purchasing passes will be required to pay the full amount up front instead of over time, encouraging those who can’t pay the full amount to reach out.
“Our goal in Parks and Recreation is to make sure every resident is able to have an experience in our new recreation campus. Cost will not be a barrier ... if they come in and say, ‘hey, I can’t afford the $75 pass,’ we’re going to make it happen,” he said. “We always do and we always will. Our goal is not to squeeze the residents.”
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-963-1697.