In order to save more money for the city each year, Taylor Baxter, director of Pontiac Parks and Recreation, proposed at the Pontiac City Council meeting Monday night to truncate the Rec Center’s hours of operation at different points of the year. The council ultimately approved Baxter’s suggestion.
    Baxter introduced the topic by saying his department was always looking at ways in which to use budgeted funds in a responsible and efficient manner, and that his proposal to shorten the Rec Center’s hours of operation would do that without seriously affecting services. In presenting the council with a business analysis report, he demonstrated that very few people on average were entering the city’s primary recreation hub after 8 and 9 p.m. all year round.
    The recreation director thus proposed the idea of closing the Rec Center two hours earlier in the summer (at 8 p.m.) and an hour early (at 9 p.m.) for the remainder of the year. He tallied up the payroll savings, calculated by him to be $1,235 for the summer months and $1,900 for the rest of the seasons, for an annual savings of $3,135 total.
    Some on the council were initially concerned that the numbers Baxter had provided only accounted for people when they arrived and not when they left, but Baxter assured them that the number of people staying beyond the hours he suggested cutting were very few.
    “Past 9 o’clock, it is a ghost town in there,” he said.
    When asked about the effect on hours of staff or other personnel issues, Baxter said that the full-time person at the desk would start one or two hours earlier. The council gave unanimous consent to go along with Baxter’s proposal.
    During the commentary time allotted to Mayor Bob Russell, he deferred back to Baxter to address the situation with the stalled splash pad development in Humiston-Riverside Park.
    “It’s been a longer process, for sure, dealing with the Illinois Department of Public Health,” Baxter admitted. “There’s no splash pad code for the State of Illinois; they base everything off the pool code, and they kind of pick and choose what they want to put in there. So that is obviously left up to a lot of discretion, a lot of back and forth even on their end, because I think they’re arguing internally.”
    Baxter said that his department would be sent a list of things to be done, they would get done and then another checklist of items would be sent the city’s way. He described the main issues being wrangled over as including a four inch drop off from the edge of the splash pad to the grass, a junction box that was decided to be too close to water to be deemed safe and changing an unnecessary call for more showers and toilets.
    Russell said that the subcontractors had returned and work had resumed, and joked that while it would not be ready by June 1, its opening date would not be too far off.