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Pickerington Parks Department may reduce programs
The Pickerington Parks and Recreation Department may be forced to eliminate some of its programs if it continues to struggle to find facilities to house them.
Rebecca Medinger, the city’s new recreation administrator, said that in the past, the city has relied heavily on Pickerington Local Schools for its programming space.
However, because of the planned renovations of Fairfield, Pickerington and Violet elementary schools, along with the generally dwindling availability of school facilities due to the cost of keeping the buildings open and staffed during events, the department is challenged to keep certain programs going and is seeking alternative options, Medinger said.
Medinger said she was informed that the planned renovations may take as long as three years to complete and that the district’s first priority is relocating its programs.
She said once those programs were relocated, the district would evaluate what accommodations could be made for the Parks and Recreation Department programming, but there were no guarantees.
The Pickerington Parks and Recreation Department offers roughly 70 types of programs to residents, she explained.
One of the more successful programs is the Summer Playground, which is similar to a part-time day camp for children, she said.
The six-week program usually enrolls 150 participants in kindergarten through fourth grade and provides children with arts and crafts, sports and games, she said.
Medinger said the program, which was held at Pickerington Elementary in the past, could be eliminated if another facility is not found.
The summer program requires both an indoor and outdoor space and requires a facility with a gym, playground, bathrooms and an art classroom, she said.
Medinger added there is a possibility that other programs may be cut; however, the Summer Playground program is currently the program most at risk.
She said she plans to explore alternative options such as church facilities or even private clubhouses in order to prevent any cancellations.
As far as winter programming is concerned, Medinger explained that the department will continue to use Pickerington Local School facilities, the Carnegie Library basement and facilities provided by outside vendors.
During the Oct. 20 Safety Committee meeting, Councilman Jeff Fix suggested paying the custodial expenses that would be generated during the programming.
Medinger says she plans to discuss that option with the schools as well.
Medinger said although the issue causes concern, she is confident that the city and schools would work together to keep the Summer Playground program going.
District Spokesperson Lee Cole said that during the planned renovations, the district intends to find alternative locations for the programs to be housed. Cole added that the district and Parks and Recreation Department have a partnership and the department is welcome to the district’s space.
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