Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department director Jason Shamblin told city council Monday that eliminating his department's programs and closing the senior center as ways to save money would have far-reaching effects.

Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department director Jason Shamblin told city council Monday that eliminating his department’s programs and closing the senior center as ways to save money would have far-reaching effects.

He said the department partners with many entities in the city, such as the Reynoldsburg Community Association, the Reynoldsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, Reynoldsburg Festivals Inc., the Alliance Soccer Club and the Livingston House Society.

Cutting the department would take a toll on a number of the city’s annual events, he said, including the Taste of Reynoldsburg, the Fourth of July parade, the Civil War re-enactment, the Tomato Festival, Community Band concerts, Pioneer Day, the Livingston House concerts, the farmers market and the Tomato Cup soccer event at Civic Park, which brings in 63 teams from around the region.

“All of those would be impacted in some way,” Shamblin said during a report to council. “Every community expects to have their streets paved, water turned on, their trash picked up and toilets flushed, but parks and recreation are what really affects the quality of life in your community.”

With a projected $1.3 million shortfall in the city’s budget in 2012, officials have indicated that parks and recreation programs, the city’s senior center and the jobs of four police officers may be eliminated.

Shamblin said his department oversees 275 acres and seven parks within the city boundaries and serves just a little less than 3,000 children during a year through its youth sports programs.

This year, he said, one of the department’s goals was to increase its marketing efforts through its web-based email system and with direct mailing. As a result, he said, this year’s fall youth sports program enrollments were up by 25 percent and winter youth programming is up 22 percent. Although he did not have exact numbers, he said adult winter sports programs were up significantly also.

Shamblin said for 2010, the parks and recreation department served 55,234 people in 7,619 program sessions with a total attendance of 249,359.

He said the senior center one of the most active in central Ohio, with a membership of more than 1,800.

“It’s incredible on a daily basis what’s going on there and the people who are there, and it’s different every single day,” he said.

He said besides the activities offered at the senior center, many people use it for a social networking place.

“Some people don’t have families here in Reynoldsburg and they come to the senior center because that is their place they have their family,” he said.

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