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Waynesville Recreation Center keeps abreast with growth

Jo Glover joined the Waynesville Recreation Center after moving to Haywood County from Alabama in December. She likes the recreation center’s atmosphere — no music blaring, windows around the indoor track, a fitness class in the morning that fits into her schedule.


Her husband, however, made a different choice. Glover said he purchased a membership at Haywood Regional Health and Fitness Center because there are a greater variety of exercise machines available there.

Attracting new members in a county that is home to two high-caliber fitness centers is among the challenges facing Rhett Langston, who took over as director of Waynesville’s Parks and Recreation Department last summer.

Langston, who has an educational background in both marketing and sports management, is making headway. Membership and revenue are both on the upswing. Total membership has grown from 1,887 in February 2006 to 5,505 last month. In addition, the recreation center also enjoyed one of the top revenue months in its six-year history this past February, bringing in $58,206.

The numbers began trending upward in November, with $34,455 in revenue. In December the recreation center hit $37,199, and in January, $47,874.

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“We’re being aggressive in two areas: marketing and programming,” Langston said.

To help with programming, Langston, an Alabama native who worked for 14 years in Buncombe County in recreation, has made some staff changes and reorganized his department.

He is interviewing now for two programmers. They will be charged with lining up classes, events, and helping the recreation department tap new markets. These include therapeutic recreation — assisting those with special needs — and the Hispanic population. Langston also moved the center’s opening hour from 6 a.m. to 5 a.m., and the center is seeing about 45 people take advantage of that new time slot.

On the marketing end, Langston has:

• Launched a quarterly publication highlighting programs available through the department.

• Three months ago, started sending members who sign up a “Rec Reminder” by email that provides specialized information on events or deadlines.

• Begun a volunteer program that allows people to get a free membership for a month if they work at the recreation center for 12 hours.

• Held “Recreation Resolution” in January that provided a two-week free membership to anyone wanting one. Seventy-eight of the 1,926 people who participated became members.

“Our goal is to meet the recreational goals of the community in a cost-effective manner without being a burden on taxpayers,” Langston said.

His formula is one that works for Clyde resident Cyndi Walker, who has belonged to the Waynesville Recreation Center for two years. Walker both works out at the center and brings her children there to take part in dances and sports opportunities.

“This is like the only place for kids to come to,” she said. “There’s nowhere else for them to really go.”

Walker also noted that she appreciates the availability of morning classes and the cleanliness of the facility.


By the numbers

Fiscal year 2006 revenue: $636,000 
Operation cost: $1,589,000 
Overall budget: $1,959,000 (includes $378,000 loan payment that is due each year to pay for building the recreation center)

At a glance

• 64,000 square feet in size 
• Water playground 
• Eight-lane pool 
• Gymnasium and racquetball courts 
• Weight room 
• Cardiovascular Area 
• Track, indoor and out 
• Child care and game rooms 
• Meeting rooms with kitchen

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