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Customer count at community centers begins today

Posted by Geeky Swedes on February 28th, 2011

In order to determine how people use the community centers, Seattle Parks and Recreation is starting a pilot project to count customers.

Starting today, people heading to all 25 community centers, including the Ballard Community Center (6020 28th Ave NW) and Loyal Heights Community Center (2101 NW 77th St) will be asked to sign in indicating their age group and time of arrival.

The pilot project, which will last two weeks, will help Parks staff respond to a City Council directive to reconsider how community centers are operated. After two weeks Parks will evaluate the information and decide whether to extend it for 10 more weeks. The process, which includes public meetings to discuss with the community ideas for how centers can be run differently, began with a public meeting on February 2.

The directive comes in the context of the budget: the cost to run the 26 centers far exceeds revenue brought in from center programs. Because of the current difficult budget situation, Parks is exploring alternatives that would offer continued services for the public, while reducing costs, including new methods of management, staffing, fundraising, and partnerships. Learning the average age groups, frequency of visits, and numbers of people visiting community centers each day will help this work.

The Parks Department will use input from the public to develop options for the community centers. There will be another public meeting this spring to get input on the specific options.

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14 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 Tom // Feb 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    You mean they didn’t keep track of the number of customers before? Wow, run a business like that and you’d be ……well, fill in the blank.

  • 2 Boatgeek // Feb 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    So if they were going to count the number of people using any part of the centers, who pays for the people to do the counting? The person to add up all the numbers? Do they count the families on the playground?

    They already know very well how many people are enrolled in classes or daycare. They probably have a good idea of how many people use open but paid services like the weight rooms. They might know how many people use the free services (teens at the pool table, etc.).

    Along the same lines, Fred Meyer knows how many purchases are made at each store every day. They almost certainly don’t know how many people enter the store/how large each purchasing party is. They probably don’t know how many people wander around for a while, can’t find what they need, and then leave without buying.

  • 3 Mr. President // Feb 28, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I can guarantee Fred Meyer knows how many people come into their stores to purchase or not. No business that size would neglect to research that info. They probably also know what aisles and sections are the most popular, which shelf height sells best etc. Etc.

  • 4 guest // Feb 28, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    I’m sure this is just a “nice” way of saying they are going to close centers due to non-use. This will be their scape-goat.

  • 5 Mr. President // Feb 28, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Well if it’s not being used enough, why waste money on it?

  • 6 onederfullone // Feb 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Waste?

    Listen, Mr. President, the community centers are ours, and we should be allowed to have them.

    If the city cannot afford to maintain them, release them, and unwrap the tangle of legal impediments to having them completely community operated, community funded, and community maintained.

    The primary reason that they want to close them is their cost. If it were property tax, or the light bill, it would be easy to solve. If I can’t volunteer to maintain the grounds, or cover the front desk, or paint the parking stripes, then what you have is something that IS a waste.

    The community needs to take over these centers, kick the bottom feeders out. When community grants are available for bioswales, art images, and what have you, and not for local control and operation of our community centers, you have to wonder what the priority is here.

    Well, I know what it is, and it’s not the children/families.

    Flame away.

  • 7 Mr. President // Feb 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    “community funded”

    How would that work?

  • 8 Go 'way, 'batin' // Feb 28, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    It’s not a business. It’s a city function.

    If running community centers was a viable business, we would have already had private community centers all over the place, humming a long making a profit, and there would be no need for the city to provide them. Just like parks, or the fire department. The whole point is that it’s something that wouldn’t exist if you waited for private companies to supply it, and it’s one of the reasons we choose to live in a city. If we can’t have our city services we might as well live out in the sticks where property is cheap.

    Oh, and of course they have were tracking users before; there is a sign in sheet. The only difference now is they’re collecting a little more information (that’s more overhead, by the way) to satisfy the free market, small government critics who want to attack our community centers for not being efficient enough. Good job, guys. Funny how easy it is to have all the answers when you’ve never set foot in a community center.

  • 9 Boatgeek // Feb 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Fred Meyer undoubtedly has surveys on this. But they also undoubtedly do those surveys on a relatively limited basis. I would expect that they do not follow (physically or otherwise) customers through the store every day. They do enough surveys to get estimates based on cash register transactions.

    Why? Because you’d be a fool to pay for surveys every day when surveys once a quarter or once a year can get you data that are nearly as good.

  • 10 guest // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Oh no – they DO get used. I didn’t say that the right way – I’m sure they will use their “numbers” to somehow make it look like the community center isn’t used enough – so they’ll have a reason to shut it down. They want to shut down the centers.

  • 11 onederfullone // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    hmmm…maybe President isn’t your calling….

  • 12 Norske // Mar 1, 2011 at 12:28 am

    I say shut the community center down — let the homeless have the community centers to sleep/live in, they already have the parks and the library. And there is a good sized parking lot for the Ballard Car Campers. Let’s follow the Lutheran Church’s lead and make Ballard the mecca for the homeless.

  • 13 Tom // Mar 1, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    Maybe they should get Silas Potter to run the centers….

  • 14 guest // Mar 2, 2011 at 7:28 am

    well what are your suggestions? He has a valid question.

    Please do tell “onederfullone”- how would releasing the community centers to the public and having them publicly/communally funded and managed work?

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