Fairfield Ledger

Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 23, 2014

Features of new gym debated Monday

By ANDY HALLMAN | Jan 15, 2014
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN Members of the Fairfield Wallyball Club address the city council Monday about their desire to see their group’s activity continue in the new gym. Members include, from left, Joel Price, Steven Blum and Monica Hadley. The pool and gym task force has proposed replacing the racquetball courts with a lobby where a desk attendant could survey the entire floor. Since wallyball is played in a racquetball court, the club’s members worried about whether a racquetball court would be included in the new gym.

Members of the Fairfield Wallyball Club pleaded with the city council Monday to ensure the proposed gym would include a room for their hobby.

The wallyball club members were afraid there would not be room for a wallyball court based on the recent proposal of the pool and gym committee to scrap racquetball courts from the plan.

Wallyball is similar to volleyball except it is played on a racquetball court and incorporates certain elements of racquetball. The net stretches from one wall to the other, and players are allowed to hit the ball off the side walls, back wall and the ceiling.

Tom McMahon, chairman of the pool and gym task force, said the most recent proposal for the gym was to remove the volleyball and racquetball courts in the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center and convert the space into a lobby. Task force member Dan Breen said in an interview removing the volleyball and racquetball courts would allow for a large lobby between the aquatic center and the north end of the building. A single desk attendant in the lobby would be able to survey most of the first floor, unlike the current configuration that requires multiple desk attendants.

“That would be an area in which you could construct an open lobby to operate the whole facility from a central location with minimal staff,” Breen said.

McMahon said the expense of building one racquetball court would be about $170,000 and the expense of two would be about $280,000. He said a usage study conducted at the rec center found the racquetball courts were not used very often and when they were it was often for activities such as arts and crafts.

He told the council it wouldn’t have to decide that night on whether to include volleyball or racquetball courts in the new gym, but it would have to decide before March 4. That is when voters in the unincorporated areas of the county will decide whether to contribute $1 million over 10 years.

Members of the Fairfield Wallyball Club disputed the notion the racquetball courts were rarely used. Club member Monica Hadley said the group plays at the rec center Tuesdays and Thursdays and sometimes on Saturdays. Games are normally two-on-two or four-on-four. She said 35-40 people in the club play regularly, and they are worried they won’t have a place to play if the racquetball courts are removed from the plan for the new gym.

John Worsfold, a member of the Fairfield Wallyball Club, said the courts were used more in the past before other groups began using them. He said fewer people have used the courts since one of the courts was converted into a trampoline/gymnastics room.

Councilor Michael Halley said the reasoning behind taking out the volleyball and racquetball courts was to save money. Without the volleyball and racquetball courts, the rec center could save $170,000 in operations by reducing the number of desk attendants. He said the new rec center could be constructed to allow one desk attendant to supervise nearly the entire floor, whereas keeping the racquetball and volleyball courts would divide the building in such a way as to require three desk attendants.

Task force member Dan Breen said he hopes the new gym will have volleyball and racquetball courts, although it depends on how much money can be raised.

“There is a basic schematic drawing that we have at any given time, but all the particulars don’t happen until you know what money you’ve got,” he said in an interview. “Just because it doesn’t show a court on the most basic design doesn’t mean we can’t add it later or raise money for it later. One option is to add courts to the north side of the building.”

A few of the wallyball club members told the council they felt “blindsided” by the revelation that volleyball and racquetball courts might not be included in the new gym. McMahon responded by saying the proposal has been in the newspaper for months and he did not feel the task force had blindsided anyone.

Breen said the task force will focus on fundraising in the next six weeks. If the county vote is successful in March, he believes the outdoor pool portion of the pool/gym project can be finished and open to the public in 2015.


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