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Crowd rallies to save MARC

Submitted Thu, 02/07/2013 - 9:08am by Andy Alm

MEADVILLE – At the Meadville Area Recreation Complex, funds are drying up, and so will the pool, unless somebody comes up with a quick 260-grand.  That’s the short version of the problem facing the rec complex affectionately known as the MARC, and it was the subject of a two-and-a-half hour standing room only meeting in the assembly room of the Grove Street Meadville Medical Center building last night.

“We’ve got some severe financial stresses coming down the pike very quickly.  We wanted to get out in front of this and get the issue out to the community, because it has been a community asset for over 35 years,” said board member Jay Verno, who helped to organize the meeting.

Brainstorming took up most of the night.  The audience penned their ideas and submitted them to the event’s organizers who will compile and publish them at a later date.

“We’ve got to do two things.  Number one, we’ve got to look for additional revenues from outside the taxpayer base.  That’s one of them.  The other thing is — there are some creative ideas on there — there was even talk tonight about possibly looking at privatization.  I’m not saying we’re going to do that.  I’m just saying those discussions have to be had by the board,” Verno said.

The lion’s share of the blame for the lack of funds can be awarded to Crawford Central School District, whose 2013-2014 budget projections call for the elimination of some 206-thousand dollars, or roughly 25-percent of the MARC’s total budget.  The cuts come as the district eliminates swimming from its phys-ed program.

Superintendent Charlie Heller said those cuts were the result of factors beyond the control of the district.

“We have funding issues of our own, based on significant pension increases, significant increases in healthcare, and a lack of state funding.”

If nothing is done, this could mean no pool at the MARC starting next winter.

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