Jefferson Rec programs, classes have exploded in the last four years
Colton Green notes a rare downtime at the Jefferson Parks and Recreation Complex while sitting at his desk at about 2 p.m. on a Thursday afternoon.
“It’s actually an eerily quiet time because most of our summer campers are on a field trip right now,” the JPR director explained.
That silence doesn’t usually last.
Roughly 4,500 people use Jefferson Parks and Recreation (JPR) facilities annually through sports programs and classes as the complex continues to be a busy center of activity for the city.
“When you consider WOW boot camp starting at 5 a.m. … from 5 a.m. to 11 or 12 o’clock at night, there’s stuff going on out here,” Green said.
While these are certainly busy times for JPR, it’s been a busy four years in general.
The department moved from its old headquarters on Mahaffey Street to its new, bond-funded complex on Old Pendergrass Road in February of 2006 and hasn’t looked back, Green said.
“So we’ve gone from that to this … The city council has done a phenomenal job of making a commitment to recreation and a high-quality level of services,” Green said.
At the time it moved, JPR offered five sports programs and two classes. There are now 21 athletic programs and camps to choose from and 14 classes to sign up for. Meanwhile, JRP is recouping 47.8 percent of its budget, the highest rate of any recreation department in the state as far as Green knows.
“It just goes on and on,” Green said of JPR’s list of activities. “I mean, it never slows down.”
For about four consecutive years, JPR saw double-digit percentage increases in its athletic program participation.
Baseball, softball and soccer have grown into multiple season sports, while programs like track and field and swimming have come into the fold. Adults have options now, too, with flag football, co-ed softball and soccer leagues (adult soccer is played at JRP but not run by the department).
Meanwhile, JPR’s diverse schedule of classes — taught by independent instructors who earn whatever they can generate off registration fees — have grown into a major part of the department’s service package. Green basically puts the word out that the department seeks individuals in the community with a skill who want to teach a class. In return, JPR can offer that class at no cost to the taxpayer.
This has allowed JPR to offer a little bit of everything. In addition to classes like Zumba and acting, JPR offers lessons in art, digital photography and aikido among others. Pilates and Spanish classes are set to begin this fall.
“Anytime someone wants to do a program, if we have the space, we’re going to make it happen,” Green said.
All this keeps the traffic in and out of the JPR complex — which Green said acts as a true community center — pretty steady.
The 4,500 annual usage figure, Green said, is a conservative estimate, but an impressive stat for a town Jefferson’s size.
“We’re proud of that number,” he said. “Because you look at what the population is for the city and the participation rate and the percentage of people involved versus the number of people who live here, it’s something we really take pride in.”