Public-Private Partnerships Take Off at Recreation Centers

Tough economic times and tightened belts led more municipalities to consider relationships with for-profit and nonprofit private entities in order to improve or just sustain their recreational facilities and programming.

In some cases, public parks and recreation facilities simply handed over the day-to-day management of a single facility. That was the case when the YMCA of Southern Nevada won the contract to operate a new $18 million recreation center that was built by the city of North Las Vegas, which had intended to run it before budget cuts forced the search for an outside operator.

Some partnerships are even more integrated, such as the one that created the $14 million Delaware YMCA Community Center (pictured). The facility was built by the city of Delaware, OH, which agreed that the Central Ohio YMCA should manage its operations long before it opened on Dec. 1. The work the two entities did in hammering out the plan also laid the groundwork for a more encompassing arrangement—Delaware’s city council this summer voted to outsource all of its recreation programming to the nonprofit.

For-profit companies are getting in on the trend, too. This fall, FitClub, Springfield, IL, gained approval from the board of the Ball-Chatham Public School District to build a fitness facility and aquatics center on the grounds of one of its high schools. FitClub will foot the bill for the construction, and the facility will be used by both private club members and students.

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