Mark Beardmore
Mark Beardmore
Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Carroll County Supervisor Mark Beardmore, an active member and supporter of the Carroll Recreation Center, is urging people to think of the facility as an indoor park, a city operated facility intended for all.

“Let’s keep it our Rec Center,” Beardmore said.

Beardmore spoke to the Carroll City Council Monday during an open comment period, saying he was representing himself, not the supervisors, on the future of the Rec Center.

Quoting former Carroll Parks and Recreation director Tom Louis, Beardmore referred to the Rec Center as an “indoor park.” The implication: it shouldn’t be asked to break even in the financial books.

“That took a while to resonate with me,” Beardmore said.

Beardmore, a Republican who described himself as a “fiscal conservative,” strongly challenged any considerations to privatize the Rec Center, or move to an exclusive business model.

“If we’re going to run it like an indoor park, it’s going to lose money,” Beardmore said.

Carroll City Councilman Mike Eifler two weeks ago said the city should evaluate privatizing the Rec Center.

“That’s one thing we should think about without throwing a bunch of extra money at the Rec Center,” Eifler said.

Eifler’s comments were part of a 75-minute discussion on the funding and future of the Rec Center.

In fiscal year 2010-2011 the Rec Center posted a $196,084 operating loss on revenues of $361,638 and expenditures of $557,722. Since 1980 the Rec Center has averaged a loss of $109,356, with revenues coming in at 73 percent of expenses. The Rec Center came close to breaking even in fiscal year 1989-1990, as it operated at a $15,357 loss, or at 95 percent of expenses. The biggest loss came in fiscal year 2005-2006 at $268,854.

The operating loss for all of Carroll’s outdoor parks and related green spaces is well over $400,000 annually, said Parks and Recreation director Jack Wardell. In fiscal year 2010-2011,  the city collected revenues of $14,821 from parks and open spaces, but expenses came in at $435,785.

The future of the 60,000-square-foot Rec Center is expected to be a primary topic at the city council’s annual strategic-planning session Aug. 25.

Councilman Michael Kots, reflecting the views of some other city leaders and many Rec Center members, as well as former longtime Rec Center director Marci Hinners, suggested moving to a 24/7 model like Anytime Fitness, a private operator.

Beardmore disagrees.

He said the reason many people have left the Rec Center for Anytime Fitness has less to do with the hours than clientele.

“They say there are no kids and there are no old people” at Anytime Fitness, Beardmore said.

Attempting to make the Rec Center into a “fitness club” is the wrong strategy, said Beardmore, who served on the city’s recreational advisory panel for seven years before being elected to the Board of Supervisors four years ago.

“You certainly don’t have exclusivity at our parks,” Beardmore said.