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SALEM Center's fee study to begin



Published: Mon, June 4, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Eric Green, director of Salem Community Center, is also planning to create a Web site for the center.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- The director of the Salem Community Center now under construction says one question he's most frequently asked is how much membership at the facility will cost.

Right now about all Eric Green, who was hired in April, can tell inquirers is that the goal is to make fees affordable.

"There's a lot of excitement in town. A lot of people are curious," Green, 31, said recently.

Before Green and Salem Community Center Inc., the private, nonprofit agency that's overseeing the center, can decide on fees, some research is required.

Numbers needed: Green said he's hoping in the next few months to estimate the number of people who will be joining the $9.5 million center now being built along North Ellsworth Avenue.

Expected to open in summer 2002, the facility's features will include a fitness area, swimming pool, indoor running track, conference rooms and an arts and crafts area.

Determining how many prospective members the center will have will aid in setting fees, Green explained.

He added that he's planning to create an Internet site for the community center in coming months on which visitors may express interest in joining and get other information about the center.

Green noted that memberships won't be restricted to Salem or Perry Township residents. Membership fees will be a crucial component of the center's operation, he explained.

Being nonprofit, the facility wants to finance most of its operation through the fees. Other money may come from contributions and through renting the facility for events.

Operation costs: Green said he has yet to determine how much it will cost to operate the 50,000-square-foot facility.

Membership fees to support that expense could be announced sometime this summer.

"This is not an elite facility," Green said. "It's for everyone. We'll make memberships as low as possible."

Center organizers are also examining a plan to subsidize membership fees for people who cannot afford the cost.

"We don't want money to be a barrier why people can't come," Green said.

Local charitable and service groups may be asked to make subsidized fees possible by contributing to the program.

Also being considered are two partnerships connected with the center.

One would include the YWCA, which may close the doors at its North Lincoln Avenue location and operate from the center.

Perfect partners: Green called the potential partnership, which is still being negotiated, a good fit.

The YWCA has a tradition of offering social programs that would augment the center's offerings, many of which will be based on fitness activities.

Center organizers are also talking with KSU-Salem about the university's using the center as a location for its physical fitness classes.

Green emphasized that the classes would be scheduled so they wouldn't interrupt the public's use of the center. Before taking the job as the center's director, Green managed the Student Recreation and Wellness Center at Kent State University's main campus.

Green received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Methodist College and his master's in sports administration from KSU.

He lives in Tallmadge now but is preparing to move to Salem. Green is married and has two children.




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