Sun City rec centers officials try to keep pace with club interest

By Rusty Bradshaw
Independent Newsmedia

Trying to keep up with changes in retiring people’s desires in the retirement community of their choosing can be difficult.

Space is becoming a premium in recreation centers in Sun City West and Sun City. Recreation Centers of Sun City officials two years ago purchased a parcel of property, including a structure that was formerly a restaurant, to renovate for more club space. RCSC officials are working with club officers from those groups selected for the existing structure, according to Chris Herring, RCSC assistant general manager.

Model Railroad Club of Sun City member Bob Holstein adjusts some items on the club’s room-size model at Fairway Recreation Center, 10600 W. Peoria Ave. It is one of 135 Recreation Centers of Sun City chartered clubs.

“We are working with the clubs on the club room and floor space layout,” he said.

In addition, some clubs remaining in their existing recreation centers are seeking additional space. One of those groups, the Bell Stained Glass Club, wants an addition to its space. The club was not one targeted for the Grand Avenue property, but was mentioned in discussion for the move.

“We asked for more space where we are,” said Gail Varenhorst, club president, during an April 9 RCSC member/director exchange meeting. “What we have now is a prime location.”

Sun City has seen steady growth of RCSC chartered clubs. Joelyn Higgins, RCSC communications and marketing coordinator, said there are 135 clubs now, up from about 120 five years ago. She added 6-8 new clubs are proposed each year while only four have dechartered.

“New clubs have included Basketball, Birding, Classic Rock and Roll, Friday Night Rock and Roll, Hand and Foot, LGBT, Illinois, Sheepshead and Volleyball,” Ms. Higgins said.

Among the 135 clubs, there are about 16,500 members, according to membership rosters submitted to the RCSC Clubds Office.“The number of RCSC cardholders who are RCSC chartered club members remains approximately the same from year to year,” Ms. Higgins said.

RCSC officials try to keep up-to-date on what new and existing residents want to see in terms of new activities and clubs. However, the top interests for the majority of new Sun City residents continues to be golf and swimming, according to Ms. Higgins.

“There has been some members discussing a wine tasting club, but no application has been submitted,” she said.

Part of the problem accommodating the various clubs is the time they need their spaces. Each club has peak and non-peak use times and coordinating them is a challenge for the RCSCW staff, according to Mike Whiting, Recreation Centers of Sun City West general manager.

Comfort isn’t the only factor involved in finding meeting and event places for clubs. At the RCSCW Properties Committee September meeting Mr. Whiting stated regarding space requests that the safety issue and ADA compliance rules need to be addressed and rectified.

Mr. Whiting also said peak use of club rooms is the biggest challenge for recreation services.

The problem of clubs growing and needing more space has become so acute that a process was developed for clubs to address their issues with the various committees and staff. Part of the process involves the amount of funds each club is willing to contribute to the requested expansion.

Three of the existing most active and fastest growing clubs in Sun City West — Boomers, Yoga and Pickleball — weren’t even thought of when Sun City was founded 50 years ago, or when Sun City West began a decade later.

The RCSCW Boomers Club is for that age group segment born between 1946-64. According to Dennis Sargent, who made a presentation for the club to the Properties Committee, today there are 74 million Boomers between 54-72. That group will be between the ages of 60-78, in 2024, he added.

The Properties Committee is responsible for making recommendations to the RCSCW board about facilities.

Sun City’s Boomer’s Club counterpart — the NextGen Club — was chartered eight years ago and now has 260 members. Terry Watts, NextGen Club president, said its is hard to predict what new clubs or activities could be proposed.

“Would anyone have thought 10 years ago that we would have an LGBT club in Sun City?” she asked. “Sun City is always changing.”

The NextGen Club was formed as a social club for communications among members with similar interests. The club is more inclusive than its name suggests, according to Ms. Watts.

“We have a wide variety of ages,” she said.

Mr. Sargent said when the Sun City West Boomers club was founded in 2009, it had 449 members. He added it has been constantly growing and today has a membership of approximately 1,500.


What: Recreation Centers of Sun City board

When: 9 a.m. Thursday, May 31

Where: Auditorium at Sundial Recreation Center, 14801 N. 103rd Ave.

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