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Recent heat adds spark to summer activities

Time will tell if rec department can be self-funding

June 7, 2011

A tightening village budget isn't hurting Elm Grove recreation programs nearly as much as the cold spring did. Luckily, summer arrived in a hurry with temperatures topping 90 degrees well into the evening this week.

That's the kind of weather Recreation Department Director Lauren Oliveri was hoping for when she was planning this year's summer activities.

"The cold spring postponed a few tasks in preparing for the summer; however, we successfully opened the pool on time and are on our way to a great season," she said.

New programs like tag rugby will be added to an already vast list of summer programs - including tennis and swim lessons, horseback riding and kayaking - all in the face of shrinking dollars from the village.

"The recreation programs have not been terribly affected by the shrinking budget. We are still able to hold our current as well as new programs," Oliveri said.

She said selling discounted tickets to places like Noah's Ark and Six Flags, is a major revenue source for her department and consistently brings buyers from outside the village.

But Oliveri said she understands many families are working on tight budgets as well. Some are opting to forego vacations and instead choosing lower-cost activities closer to home.

"When broken down to 'per class payments,' the Recreation Department offers many activities that cost about $3 to $5 per class," she said.

Partnering with other local communities can be a way to keep costs down. Elm Grove shares programs and allows residents to enroll in programs in other communities as well.

"We will continue to co-op with other recreation departments, including Wauwatosa and New Berlin," Oliveri said. 

"As of now there are no plans for partnerships with Wauwatosa and the new Hoyt Park Pool," she added.

Elm Grove is counting on revenue from pool rentals for parties this summer since the village sold out its spots last year and raised prices this year. It remains to be seen whether the new Tosa Pool at Hoyt Park has any long-term impact on those revenue streams.

In the fall, recreation officials said they expected to be self-sufficient in 2011. Revenue generated in the summer will be a key factor in determining whether that will be the case.

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