Mineola residents will be paying more for their leisure passes to the and recreation programs this year after the approved a series of price increases at its March 7 meeting at the .
“We’ve done this over the last few years and haven’t made any real changes to anything,” superintendent of public works Tom Rini said of several meetings between himself and , noting that while some areas of the summer recreation program are not self-sustaining, “not that we’re looking to be but I think we’re losing more money than we should be and it bears looking at.”
First, while the village will continue to offer swimming lessons, Mineola will no longer offer certification as part of the program. Other municipalities charge whether they are Red Cross certified or not and while Rini was not recommending charging for lessons he noted that the Red Cross has raised its fee to issue “swim cards” showing certification. Rini estimated that it would cost the village over $2,000 for cards for the amount of children the program typically runs through. A pack of 400 cards used to cost $300.
“Many of the smaller municipalities such as ourselves – other villages – are offering the lessons but they’re not offering Red Cross certification,” he said. “They’re using the same guidelines and offering that but you’re not receiving the little Red Cross cards.”
Prices for the leisure passes have not increased for the past 15 years. Currently passes are $5 per person, with Rini asking to change to $7 with late registration going from $8 to $10. For a person with a caretaker the cost is $50 and it was recommended to move to $55. Late registration for a caretaker pass is currently $58 but was moved to $65. The fee for a replacement pass is $5, but the village is looking to double it to $10 “to try to keep people a little more in charge of it and cognizant of their passes,” Rini said.
Rini is also looking at changing the application process where once the application is submitted by a family or address no additional members can be added after that point.
“What’s been happening over the last few years, we’ve had people come into the recreation office and leisure pass office down at the pool and say ‘my nephew had to move in with us for the summer, I need to add them on’ or ‘my mother-in-law just came in for the summer, we need to add her on’,” he said, “and it’s been getting a little out of control.”
His recommendation was that only immediate family members would be able to be added after submission.
Guest passes currently run $7 a day for anyone 13 years or older, but were recommend to increase to $10; guest passes for children would increase to $7 from the current $5.
The village does offer discount guest pass allowing six visits per pass for $18 or $3 per visit regardless of age. It was recommended moving the amount to $25 or $4.17 per visit. These visits are not assigned to any one individual.
“While you do want to want to have that ability to let people to come in there are those days where it’s overcrowded where it’s very hot,” Rini said. “We’re not taking giant leaps on any of this but it’s something that’s going to assist with some of the costs down at the pool.”
The summer recreation program has seen over the past few years but will no longer be open to eighth graders. It had served young residents in grades two through eight.
“The school system has ; they moved the eighth grade to the ,” Rini said. “This was always a program for the younger kids that hadn’t yet reached into high school and kind of capped off at or junior high age. They’re an older group that doesn’t always necessarily want to be there.”
The village will also be capping the number of registrants as it had close to 450 this past year.
“It became a very large program that was very difficult to control once it got over (400),” Rini said, explaining problems occurred on hot or rainy days when children would go to the community center instead of the fields as well as the amount of stress the numbers place upon the counselors.
“We were realistically looking at stopping at a number of 400,” Rini said. “We feel that is the real max that we can do safely.”
Registration fees for the program currently run $150 for the first camper and $75 for each additional sibling. The program runs for 5 weeks for five to 6 hours a day. Rini recommended moving the fee for the first camper to $175 while maintaining $75 for each additional sibling.
“The program, while it was never intended to be self-sustaining, that gap is getting a whole lot wider now,” he said.
A new $25 late registration fee per child would be instituted, going to $50 after the program starts. No late fee currently exists. Applications for the program are available online and “well in advance” of the deadline.
“What we’re trying to do is discourage those latecomers that are either looking for other options or waiting to see if something else is going to pan out,” Rini said, describing a large influx of applications in the week before the deadline. “We’ve already hired the counselors, we’ve already broken out the groups by age and now there are certain ratios that we’re required to have as far as counselor to children based on age. It really wreaks havoc because now we’re looking for additional counselors, additional materials, additional uniform orders. It really throws the program into a tailspin the week before we’re trying to get it open.”
While no timeline for a deadline yet exists, Rini said it would either be a specific date or whenever they hit the cap limit of 400 campers.
Rini also recommended that the so personnel could continue to study its usage, making a determination at a later date. The shuttle bus averages $5,700 in costs only carries about 12 people per day. Rini said the village has been monitoring it “and we’ll do it again. I wouldn’t say wholesale cut it out but I think it bares looking at.”