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Parks and Rec membership fees (and revenues) could increase under tiered structure proposal

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Denver Parks and Recreation membership fees could increase if the city council approves a task force's recommendation to create a tiered fee structure for the city's 27 rec centers. The centers would be divided into three categories: neighborhood (small), local (medium-sized) and regional (fully loaded).

An adult membership to a neighborhood rec center would cost $15 per month. A local membership would cost $20 per month and a regional membership would be $30 per month. Those with regional memberships could use all 27 rec centers, and those with local memberships could use both local and neighborhood centers. Neighborhood members could only use neighborhood centers.

Currently, rec center memberships are sold in three-month ($52), six-month ($100) and annual ($190) increments; there is no monthly fee and all members can use all centers.

The proposed tiered model would likely be a revenue booster for the city. Assuming members buy year-long passes, both the local and regional membership fees would bring in more money ($240 and $360, respectively) than the current annual fee. But unlike the current fee structure, members wouldn't have to commit to a months-long agreement; they could buy passes on a month-to-month basis. The fees could also be deducted directly from their bank accounts, much like at gyms such as 24 Hour Fitness.

The tiered model was recommended by a Recreation Task Force first convened in 2009 with the goal of building a long-term vision for the parks and rec department, says spokeswoman Angela Casias. The task force examined best practices from around the country and decided that a tiered system would make sense in Denver.

"They felt there was an inequity as far as the level of amenities," Casias says. "Someone who goes to Aztlan Rec Center is not getting the same level of amenity as someone who goes to the Central Park Rec Center (in Stapleton). This way, someone who reaps the benefit of a center with the full gamut of amenities is paying for that amenity, as well."

The parks and rec department expects to roll out what Casias calls "a robust scholarship program" in conjunction with the new fee structure. Though the details are not final, she says families whose children receive free or reduced-price lunch at school would likely be eligible for discounts. Elementary students in schools where 75 percent or more of the students qualify already receive free memberships through the city's My Place Program.

Ultimately, the city council will have the final say as to whether the tiered fee structure is adopted. Casias says she expects the council to debate the issue next month. If they approve the new structure, she adds, it would go into effect on September 1.

In the meantime, the parks and rec department is holding a series of meetings to inform residents about the proposed fee structure. The meetings are informational; Casias says no matter the outcome, she expects the proposed fee structure to advance to the city council.

All meetings will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The dates and locations are as follows:

Today at Scheitler Rec Center, 5031 W. 46th Avenue* Thursday, May 19 at Central Park Rec Center, 9651 MLK Boulevard Tuesday, May 24 at Barnum Rec Center, 360 Hooker Street* Wednesday, May 25 at Cook Park Rec Center, 7100 Cherry Creek South Drive *Spanish translation available

Flip the page for a list of which rec centers would be neighborhood, local and regional.

Neighborhood Ashland Aztlan Barnum Stapleton Highland Senior La Alma Martin Luther King Platt Park Senior St. Charles

Local Ashland Indoor Pool Cook Park Eisenhower Glenarm Green Valley Ranch Harvard Gulch Harvey Park Hiawatha Davis La Familia Southwest 20th Street Gym Swansea

Regional Athmar Montbello Montclair Central Park Rude Scheitler Washington Park

More from our Things to Do archive: "Denver Parks and Recreation on Parks and Recreation."

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