Park district considers a community center concept for H-F Racquet & Fitness Club

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Park district considers a community center concept for H-F Racquet & Fitness Club

September 10, 2021 - 22:17
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The H-F Racquet & Fitness Club needs some changes. But Homewood-Flossmoor Park District commissioners are in a quandary about what to do with the facility, on what timeline and at what expense.

Commissioners have looked at the issue before, but at the Sept. 7 meeting they decided to start a serious discussion on how to improve the facility at 2920 W. 183rd St. in Homewood.

The building has gone through four renovations. It started as a tennis club in 1973. Then the pool was added, and then a fitness area and offices. Currently, there are some spaces that are underutilized or not used at all.

The commissioners are looking for input from residents. They invite the public to share their ideas at the park board’s next committee meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5. The meeting will be at the Goldberg Administrative Center, 3301 Flossmoor Road in Flossmoor.

Commissioners covered several topics:
Should the space be converted to more of a community center/fitness center?
Should membership to the facilities move from a general membership fee to a fee specific to one area, for example a pool pass, a tennis pass or a fitness center pass? Free admission to other areas? How to monitor that?
What’s the revenue picture? Any switch should work to prevent a loss in revenue
Would a change mean a decrease in what the park district offers at the center?
How can the space be redesigned?

“It still has a club atmosphere,” said Debbie Kopas, parks executive director, who pointed out the word club is even in its name.

Commissioners agreed with her, and said they were ready to start developing some creative ideas for the space.

“Philosophically, I love the concept of a community center vs. a club. I think it sends an important message. It speaks to the times we’re in,” said Commissioner Brett Bachus.

“To the initial question, yes, we should do this,” said Commissioner Steve Johnson. “But then there’s a million shades of gray on how far to go. Do you convert space for volleyball and soccer? Do you turn it into a community center for seniors? You could go from $8,000 to $3 million.”

His suggestion is the board and administration should develop a plan so that the park district has goals on what it wants to achieve and will know how expensive those ideas can be.

Commissioner Debbie Dennison said she’s visited a community center in Denver and really likes the way people can interact with the staff and participate in a host of activities. She said there is even a drop box for the library at the Denver facility.

“I would love to go forward with this (conversion),” she said. “It’s not 1973, and I think our community would benefit so much.”