DRC building

Upon completing its Strategic Master Plan in 2018, the Derby Recreation Commission saw the interest in a new indoor aquatic center remain very high.

After gauging feedback from community members about the possibility of a steering committee, the DRC plans to engage the subject in more detail in 2020.

DRC Superintendent Chris Drum said that the finishing touches and opening of the new Hubbard Arts Center remain a priority, but it’s not deviating from the interest of additional aquatic space.

“We’re working now to start developing that steering committee,” Drum said. “We have a few folks who are interested in serving as chairs that are outside of the DRC … we’re supporting them in the effort, really. We want them to provide input and take the lead.”

Deck space around the current indoor pool has become a major constraint, forcing Derby High School to look elsewhere for its home meets. It held its two annual events at the brand-new Campus natatorium this past school year.

“[Previously] we’d pull in as many bleachers and seating as we could, but also had to shut down our facilities to [the] public during those swim meets,” DRC Director of Facilities Darcie Parkhurst added.

Drum said it’s also an indicator that steps need to be taken to revisit the vision for this type of facility.

The idea of an indoor aquatic space came up in the last USD 260 bond, but was eliminated prior to the Feb. 2018 vote. Drum stressed that city and school board partnerships will be critical for these ideas and visions to move forward.

“This is absolutely 100 percent a project that we’ll work closely with the city and the school,” he said. “That determines the timing and it has to be the right fit, location and all other things. We felt we needed to be proactive in supporting the steering committee. There are a lot of people ready to get this thing going.”

Much like the development of turf infields at Decarsky Park, Parkhurst said this type of indoor aquatics facility would provide a major boost to the community with the possibilities of various meets and tournaments.

“It would bring in a broad spectrum of people into this community to experience a facility of this kind,” she added.

Where does membership restructure stand?

It has been just over four months since the DRC overhauled its membership pricing, allowing customers to attend any fitness class as part of its annual, daily or monthly fee.

Drum stated that the plans have been an overwhelming success, leading to nine to 10 percent growth (just under 600 new members) in revenue since Aug. 19.

“That could be people who previously took classes and crossed over and bought a membership or brand new,” Drum said. “Those are brand new membership accounts … we had hoped to gain that in six months and not necessarily six weeks.”

Numbers have also increased in the Kids Club, which Drum said was to be expected.

“We still have some slow times from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” he said. “… Those are hours we added a little over a year ago when we adjusted facility hours. I can’t say 100 percent [if any additional changes will be made], but we want to give it time heading into one of our busiest seasons throughout the year.”