The Zanesville/Muskingum County community was without a public/community indoor pool or recreation facility since the old YMCA, located on South 5th Street in downtown Zanesville, was demolished 30 years ago. It is hard to find another city in Ohio the size of Zanesville that does not have such a facility. Over the years, several attempts were made to secure such a facility through tax levies, bond issues and private means. However, these attempts were not successful due to the expense of such a project as well as disagreement over where the facility should be located.
The Muskingum Recreation Center (MRC) is a non-profit corporation organized in June of 2009. Although Muskingum Recreation Center’s existence is brief, the four entities that came together to form this partnership, the Muskingum County Community Foundation (MCCF), the Muskingum Family Y (MFY), Genesis HealthCare System and Ohio University Zanesville (OUZ), have a long history of service to Muskingum County and its residents. In January of 2009 individuals from the four entities came together and began to work collaboratively on a plan to construct an indoor community pool and recreation center for the residents of Muskingum Count. During this three year period, the partners worked with a consultant to develop a complete business plan for a 100 % self-sustaining Aquatic/Recreation Center. Additionally, focus groups and community surveys were conducted to ensure that once it is completed, the facility will meet the expectations of those it will serve.
The facility is located on the Ohio University Zanesville/Zane State Campus and is open to the public. The facility’s main activities include promoting health and wellness through recreational, fitness, and educational programming to a multi-generational population from infants through senior citizens.
The Muskingum Recreation Center and its partners, Genesis HealthCare System, Muskingum County Community Foundation, Muskingum Family Y and Ohio University Zanesville, are dedicated to providing residents and visitors a safe, clean, and well-maintained facility that promotes health, education, and recreation through a network of quality programs, activities, and amenities that strengthen the individual, family, and community, both now and for future generations. Support the Muskingum Recreation Center mission by making a gift.
Message From Muskingum Recreation Center Executive Director, Beth Chapman
The Muskingum Recreation Center project represents a unique opportunity for an Aquatic/Recreation Center to become a reality for our community. Partner collaboration has been essential to bringing the project to this important juncture. Now we need the teamwork of the entire community to make it happen.
I am please to have the opportunity to work from the ground up on the design and operations of the MRC to further enhance the health and wellness of our community. I see this project as a chance to blend what we’ve established at the Genesis Lifestyle & Fitness Center with the terrific programs of the Muskingum Family Y to develop an accessible, centrally located recreation center that will positively impact the overall quality of life of the Muskingum County community.
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1. Business & Industry
Quality of life for innovative & progressive industries that are looking for a place to grow.
2. Visitors To The Area
Attracts non-residents and tourists to the community.
New industry & visitors to the community means generation of revenue for the economy.
4. New Jobs
The MRC will employ approximately 45 people which will create new positions to accommodate members, guests and partons.
5. Increase In Property Values
Enhanced quality of life in the community will increase property values.
6. Healthy Lifestyle
Varied programs will encourage healthier lifestyles for all ages.
7. Safe Haven For Youths
Healthy and diverse programming for youth and teens.
8. Familty Togetherness
Programs where families can explore individual interests or participate together will encourage family values.
9. Lifelong Safety Skills
Swimming lessons, lifesaving skills and healthy life choices.
What will happen to current employees of Genesis Lifestyle & Fitness Center and the Y?
It is our belief all current Genesis Lifestyle & Fitness Center employees must be good at what they do or wouldn’t have their current job, so we expect all employees to make the move if they so choose. There will be new positions with the MRC requiring additional staff. The Y will continue to operate out of the Park Central location.
What kind of membership fees will the Muskingum Recreation Center charge?
There will be a wide variety of membership structures for the Musking Recreation Center. The fees will be slightly more than currently charged by Genesis Lifestyle & Fitness Center, but below the industry standards for a facility with amenities similar to the Muskingum Recreation Center.
Why isn’t Zane State College part of this initiative?
Before the committee was formed Zane State College was asked to be part of the partnership, however they declined as they have a building project of their own. That said, Zane State has expressed that the Muskingum Recreation Center will be a great addition to the campus and Zane State students will benefit from having such a facility on campus.
What is the projected time line for the project?
Currently we are planning to break ground on the Muskingum Recreation Center in 2012 with construction estimated to take bewteen 14-16 months.
Which one of the partners will be in charge of the Center?
A Board of Trustees made up of representatives from each one of the partners as well as three community representatives will participate equally in the oversight of the facility through a joint operating agreement. Beth Chapman from Genesis Lifestyle & Fitness Center will serve as Executive Director of the Muskingum Recreation Center. She will oversee the day-to-day operations and will report to the Muskingum Recreation Center Board of Trustees.
Why don’t we have an outdoor pool?
Our consultant has advised us that an outdoor pool is best left to a future phase of this project because in our climate outdoor pools can only be operated three months of the year, therefore, outdoor pools are not self supporting. In fact, it is difficult for indoor pools to be self supporting unless combined with other fitness components and programming. Because having a community pool was overwhelmingly the number one item identified as a community need, the consultant advised that starting with an indoor pool(s) is the most economical way to proceed. There is indeed room for expansion of the facility and an outdoor pool is likely to be part of that expansion.
What do you say to those that believe other locations would be better….more centrally located, easier access and the like?
Although the community has been looking for thirty years, it has not found a better location. The partners believe the efficiencies of the OUZ location as well as the close proximity to Park Central (formerly Armco Park) make this the best central location for the facility. Using this location requires no expense for the land and comes with an existing gymnasium, parking and infrastructure. Furthermore, the campus location has fairly easy access due to its proximity to the interstate, the Northpointe bypass, and Maple Avenue. Because of the number of OUZ/Zane State students who already utilize public transportation to get to classes the Z-bus already makes regular runs to the campus 5 times per day Monday through Friday. We will work with Z-Bus to increase service once the facility is completed so that all those wishing to enjoy the facility will have the opportunity to do so.
Why undertake this project now during the economic downturn and when other entities are also fund raising?
We are aware these are difficult economic times, which is why the partners thought it was so important to work collaboratively. If each partner pursued their own project….such as the Y building a pool or Genesis Lifestyle & Fitness Center expanding its fitness facility….. it would be decidedly more costly to each individual entity, to possible donors and the community at large. And although it may not be an ideal fund raising climate, building costs have dropped over the last 18 months as a result of the tight economy so perhaps in some ways the timing is positive.
We also believe in many ways the project timing is right because the project can have a positive impact on the local economic outlook by creating jobs, serving to help attract new business and industry, and attracting visitors to the area. Furthermore through our feasibility focus groups and surveys last fall we discovered that many families and individuals, swimmers and swim teams are traveling to neighboring counties to utilize similar amenities. The new Aquatic/Fitness Center would keep those dollars here in our own community.
Finally, we understand that at any given moment there are other worthwhile projects and charitable entities looking for support from the community, therefore it is almost impossible to avoid all other efforts. The idea of bringing an Aquatic/Fitness Center to our community has been continually explored, investigated and talked about every since the old YMCA was torn down many years ago so it is not a new endeavor. The Muskingum Recreation Center partners have been working on this effort diligently and systematically for the last year and half to ensure the project is will be financial y self sufficient after it is built, rather than a financial burden to the community. Whatever the timing, it seems that this project is long overdue.