Summer 2022 Director’s Letter

Airway Heights City Council authorizes approximately $350,000 to “Rescue” and restore high priority Parks & Recreation needs thanks to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Parks and Recreation has suffered from the impact of the COVID pandemic over the past two years to a greater extent than any other City Department, with the closing of the Recreation Center and then reduced hours when we finally reopened. With program and service reductions, and severe staffing cuts we’ve faced, it has made it challenging to meet the needs of the community.

Since our reopening, community members have been asking for more services and the restoration of hours at our Recreation Center, understanding the Center serves as an incredible community hub and the positive profound impact access to the facility has on our community.

When the federal government passed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) we identified it as an opportunity and have been making the case for the importance of expanding hours and advocating for these ARPA funds to be used to improve and enhance our operations. 

We would like to thank everyone who participated in the survey we put out regarding the need to expand opportunities here at the Recreation Center. We received 622 responses to the survey with positive feedback from current members and past members on the importance of expanding hours; 69% of current members and 65% of previous members identified the ability to expand hours of operation from the current operating model of 81 hours per week to 95 hours was an important factor in their use of the facility. The City Council considered this information when setting priorities for the use of the ARPA funds and where they could have the greatest impact.

Thanks to the Airway Heights City Council’s support and approval, the ARPA funds will address service disparities and impacts members have felt. These funds will enhance our ability to be able to bring more community members together again and support their physical and mental well-being. The Council members understand the importance of investing in services that improve the quality of life and make the City better, especially for families and young people. This investment represents a portion of the $2.6 million dollars in ARPA funds the City of Airway Heights received from the federal government to help achieve an equitable economic and community recovery from the pandemic.

We are excited to have the opportunity to expand our hours and get back to being the place where everyone can be active, healthier, and connect with friends and neighbors. We are dedicated to re-establishing the Recreation Center as the health and wellness hub for the greater Airway Heights and West Plains region. This opportunity to use ARPA funds shows the value the City Council places on supporting the investment made when the bond initiative was passed to build the facility. We appreciate the community’s support while working through all of the challenges the COVID pandemic has presented.

J.C. Kennedy 

Parks & Recreation Director