New hours met with mixed reviews

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales Recreation Center Director Johnny Ledbetter said it’s too early to tell what kind of effect the change of center hours will have on the membership, but some children would rather it go back the previous hours.

The Portales Recreation Center has gone almost two months with new hours in an effort to cut costs and a concern of not enough family time for children at their homes.

Starting on Aug. 16, the hours of operation changed to 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday.

“I like the way it used to be,” Fabian Munoz, a Valencia Elementary fourth-grader, said. “My parents don’t mind it though. They have me do my homework when I get home.”

Alec Kinser, a Lindsey Elementary sixth-grader, said he would rather the recreation center be open later, also, but has found alternative things to do after 6:30 p.m. Kinser said he plays with his friend, Rodney Curnutt, a third-grader from James Elementary. Kinser said they ride their bicycles after the recreation center closes.

Ledbetter said he’s not sure how this will effect membership which was 881 from July 2004 to June 2005.

Debi Lee, city manager, said the new hours are a result of a recreation board strategic plan and a trim on the budget.
She said some of the savings are being used for upkeep at city-owned ball fields.

“They wanted to improve parks and fields,” Lee said. “We also wanted to get kids home and eating dinner. We wanted them to spend some time with their families.”

During Lee’s tenure, she has asked department heads to trim their budgets to enable the city to climb out of a debt. During the city budget hearings in May, the Portales City Finance Committee officials estimated a $47,891 deficit for the 2005-06 fiscal year.

Ledbetter said the Portales Recreation Center has two full-time employees and three part-time employees. Lee said personnel cost for the recreation center are an estimated $90,000 a year.

According to Ledbetter, two years ago city officials experimented with having the recreation center open on Saturdays. After a nine-month period, city officials closed the center on Saturdays due to a low turnout, according to Ledbetter.