Half of Groton’s fall recreation programs are at risk of being cancelled because of lack of enrollment, the manager of recreation services said Thursday.
Manager Jerry Lokken said there’s still about a week left to register, but figures are lower than they’ve ever been.
Last year, 2,500 people signed up for fall recreation programs in Groton. So far, about 700 have registered for the fall session, he said.
“I don’t know if it’s the delay of school or Hurricane Irene or the economy. There’s lots of things that might be going on. We just want to make sure we encourage people to register,” Lokken said.
Fall programs start Sept. 17, and decisions about whether to keep or cancel specific classes are typically made before they start. Minimum enrollments vary by program, but many require less than 10. Lokken said he's concerned that people will try to register late and then find a program is no longer being offered.
“We want to see a mad frenzied rush to register. Because if not, a lot of people are going to be frustrated,” he said.
The recreation department has already had to make adjustments this year; the state notified the town Aug. 1 that it would close the Mystic Education Center to save money. Groton had used the facility for years to house programs including all of its aquatics classes, and used the center's warm-water pool 25 hours and five days a week.
The department moved aquatics classes to the University of Connecticut at Avery Point, which has a pool kept about 10 degrees cooler and used for competitive lap swimming. Classes will be held Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Lokken said Groton offered 63 aquatics classes last fall and this fall is offering 37. Last fall, 540 people signed up for Groton’s aquatics programs. Registration so far this year is 150, he said.
Ben Morse, in charge of aquatics, enrichment classes and dance programs, said he wonders if the storm affected registration because people lost power and it threw off their schedules.
For example, he said classes like ballroom dancing which typically do well, have two people registered per class.
"Ballroom dance for the adults is really low compared to what we usually have,” he said.
The recreation department is offering 175 different programs this fall, down from 220 last year, mostly due to the loss of the Mystic Education Center. About half haven’t met the minimum enrollment required to prevent them from being cancelled, he said.
Kirsti Zarn, an office assistant who registers people in person at the recreation office, said she notices it has been slow.
Some programs such as “Game Day All Stars”, a sports program for children ages 6 to 10, have no one enrolled. But she said other more expensive classes are full.
Private swim lessons, for instance, which cost $150 for the series of 30-minute classes, are booked.
Lokken said the department does have to cancel some classes every year because interests change. One year Zumba is big, and the next it is not. He said his main concern is that people register on time if they want a program, or it may be cut.
“Then everybody kind of loses,” he said.
Residents may register for recreation programs online at grotonrec.com, in person at the Groton Parks and Recreation office on Spicer Avenue in Noank, or by mail using the Discover catalogue form to: Groton Parks and Recreation, 27 Spicer Avenue, Noank, CT 06340-5659.