MILTON — A resident has requested that the Guy Thompson Community Center be open on weekends for seniors to meet regularly, but City Manager Brian Watkins isn’t sure it is a good idea.
The city has tried multiple times to open the community center on Saturdays, Watkins said at the July 20 Committee of the Whole meeting.
“We tried [first] staffing it; we adjusted staff times and we had one staff member every week working Tuesday to Saturday while everyone else worked Monday to Friday so that somebody would be available Saturdays and we opened it for eight hours,” Watkins said. “We did that for about five or six months, and basically we kept track of who was coming in, what was going on. Basically, it was a few skateboarders every now and then coming in to use the bathroom.
“It was really not utilized at all, so we stopped and moved back to the five days a week deal.”
The city looked into leaving the community center open on Saturdays without a staff member, however, due to issues within the building during times the community center was left open but unstaffed, Watkins said the city stopped being open on Saturdays.
“We have tried partnering with non-profits or other groups again doing that, and what we found in there was that yes, they came in, they are responsible groups… but what happens is when they come in they are focused on what they’re doing, and what we found was at that point they’d come in… and nobody is paying attention to what is going on in the community center [or who] is coming and going,” Watkins said. “As much as I’d love to do this… I think right now we stick with our current policy that if the doors are open to the community center, there is a paid staff member there to look after the interest of the city and the building.”
Councilman Casey Powell agreed that it may not be smart to open the doors without a staff member available due to potential liability issues. According to Watkins, people can currently rent the community center on the weekend but they pay an additional $25 per hour fee for a staff member to be on duty.
Watkins said the city could look into options once again, such as rotating staff schedules or increasing the number of staff members. The council and Watkins decided to continue the discussion in the next Parks and Recreation Committee meeting.