(MANHATTAN, Kan. – June 23, 2022) — City management and the Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department are evaluating the ability to offer modified programming this fall for youth sports and other activities, due to limited staffing for scorekeepers, referees, and facility supervisors.
While the City of Manhattan intends to offer fall volleyball and flag football, among other programs, these programs may be modified or suspended based on available resources now and moving forward. Program modifications could consist of youth leagues for which City staff can take registrations and schedule games, but volunteers or parents would serve as referees and scorekeepers.
“We simply are not able to recruit, hire, or retain employees like we did pre-pandemic,” said City Manager Ron Fehr. “We understand Manhattan residents take pride in and have supported improvements to many of our parks and recreational facilities. However, we have been challenged with workforce shortages and reduced revenues that may not allow us to continue to provide the same recreational opportunities that we historically have offered.”
The City is committed to maintaining a high quality of life for residents, including the delivery of recreation services and programs through its many facilities.
How those services are offered is dependent on available staffing, resources, and revenue to fund these programs. This includes evaluating the number of participants and adequate fees to cover costs associated with each program.
“Over the last year, we have shifted to volunteer-led programming in adult sports as well as youth soccer, which has been a successful transition,” said Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation Wyatt Thompson.
“The City provides and manages sports facilities, fields, and certain equipment to accommodate these programs. City staff, in some cases, manages online registration, reserves facilities, and assists with scheduling, while community groups and volunteers coordinate management of the programs, including scorekeeping, refereeing, and coaching duties. This model has reduced City expenses, allowing us to continue facilitating these programs that our community enjoys.”
If the City is unable to fully staff or fund other youth programs and activities, it might look to this model now and in the future, or consider suspending certain programs with low enrollment.
“Parks and recreation were at the heart of many conversations during the development of our strategic plan last year,” Fehr said.
“One key action step that came from that effort was comprehensively evaluating parks and recreation offerings to meet the priorities of the community in a way that is sustainable. We need to continue that community conversation in a constructive way. Let’s work together to find solutions.”
Throughout 2022, the City will thoroughly evaluate its parks and recreational facilities, programs, and activities so it can position itself to consistently deliver programs that are community priorities, as well as account for how future changes might impact staffing, fees, cost recovery, and overall feasibility.
More information about the City can be found online at www.cityofmhk.com, or by following the City on Facebook @cityofmanhattan or Twitter @cityofmhk.
The Parks and Recreation Department website is www.mhkprd.com. Find the latest information about Rec programs on Facebook @manhattanparksandrec or Twitter @ManhattanPRD.