For the second year in a row, Spokane County’s Department of Parks and Recreation has closed its children’s summer general recreation programs, due to lack of participation.
This year’s program, called Kids Play, ran 10 days at Liberty Lake Park before closing.
“I am disappointed,” said Randy Johnson, recreation manager. “But we can’t afford to have staffers just looking at each other.” The two staffers at Liberty Lake were reassigned to other positions there.
Kids Play charged only the $2 admission fee to the park. The program was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and was designed as a drop-in program.
The county’s recreation programs have to support themselves, Johnson said. No money is allocated from the county’s general fund. Even in the county’s swimming program, lesson sessions have to be canceled if not enough children sign up to cover costs.
That’s in marked contrast to the city of Spokane.
Summer youth recreation programs have a budget of more than $200,000, said Don Roise, director of the summer parks programs. The program includes 21 parks.
Roise sympathized with the county’s situation, though. He said that after 17 years in his job, he sometimes finds it difficult to know what programs will succeed.
“I have some programs run for a couple of quarters and not enough kids sign up and I think, ‘OK that was a bad idea.’ Then, with some other ones I think ‘This one doesn’t have a prayer,’ and it goes like crazy,” Roise said.
Last year’s county general youth recreation program received no signups at all. Johnson said he believes cost was a factor last year.
“We’ll keep trying to find something that works,” he said.
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