Everyone is familiar with our beautiful rec park but I was struck by the thought that most people aren’t aware of how frequently it is used by the community. Below is a breakdown of its usage from June of 2018 through this year.

Baseball fields, 1,781.5 hours; pavilions, 1,072 hours; assembly room, 2,715 hours; kitchen, 522 hours; meeting rooms, 116 hours; amphitheater, 41 hours; north field, 177 hours; football field, 159.5 hours; youth activity center, 140 hours; Biser Fitness Trail, about 13,725 users; dog park, about 9,000 users.

When we combine this data with special events that take place at the rec park, there are around 248,676 visitors every year. To put that in perspective, it would be like if every single citizen of Allentown, Pa., visited the park twice every year. In order to maintain the rec park, we receive $132,000 total from Cumberland Township and the Borough of Gettysburg. Our total revenue from all rental fees was $54,632, bringing our total income to $186,632. This means that in order to run the rec park we have $0.75 per user with which to work.

What does that $0.75 per user mean? It means 56 acres of grass that is cut weekly for six to seven months of the year; weed trimming over 4,380 linear feet of fencing; mowing and weeding the Lincoln Cemetery; maintenance of two commercial lawn mowers, a John Deer and a Kabota, plus a golf cart; bathroom repair, maintenance, and upkeep; electricity, gas, and water, which is almost $2,300 a year; replacing ball field mix, grass, and dog waste bags. These are a few of our hard costs, they don’t include the new roof, the new parking lot, or replacing equipment when it dies.

I would like to challenge the people of this community to consider how much they’re getting when they visit the rec park and the cost associated with that visit. At $0.75 per user, if you use the dog park or walk on the trail twice a week for even half the year, that equates to a penny and a half for each visit. Our staff works incredibly hard to give every user an enjoyable and safe experience. We want the park to be a place for fun, outdoor activity, and community gathering. When you’re considering where to make your yearly donations, please consider the rec park. We do all of this with $0.75 per user, imagine what we could do with $1.50.

Jackie Dwyer is the executive director of the Gettysburg Area Recreation Authority. She has been a part of recreation since she was 16-years-old. She served in the United States Navy onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.

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