Officials struggling to find new director for Columbus Aquatics Center

Columbus Aquatic Center
Columbus Aquatic Center mowen@ledger-enquirer.com

The Columbus Aquatics Center is still in need of a director, said Parks and Recreation Director Holli Browder.

Browder told members of Columbus Council recently that she has managed to hire an Aquatics Program supervisor, but is having trouble landing a director to head up the center. Parks and Rec leaders have interviewed three candidates and offered the approximately $64,000 position to two people, but they declined the job.

They are also continuing to advertise for a center director with the Georgia and national recreation and parks associations.

Revenue for the facility is running about the same in total dollars this year as compared to last, but as a percentage of projected income, it is lagging behind.

In the first four months of fiscal 2016, July through October, the facility brought in about $56,800, which was about 33 percent of the project annual total of $170,000. In the first four months of fiscal 2017, it has brought in about $56,000, which is only about 20 percent of the projected annual income of $277,000, Browder said.

That, Browder said, is the result of having to cut back on hours of operation.

The facility had been operating for 89 hours a week, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday. It now operates for 60 hours a week, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’re pretty much on point to where we were last year,” Browder said. “We’re certainly not losing any ground, but we’re not gaining ground.”

Browder said her department is experimenting with ways to increase revenue. They are planning a water basketball league, additional swim classes and possibly adding classes in kayaking, log rolling and water Zumba.

Browder said her department has secured four confirmed and sworn in members of the new Columbus Aquatics Commission, a group the city established to help with the Aquatics Center. They have also landed two more confirmed members who have yet to be sworn in and are looking for the seventh and final member of the commission, she said.

“By January, we expect to have all the members confirmed and sworn in,” Browder said.