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Editorial: Response to public outcry quick, decisive

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People who think government is unresponsive — or, worse, not listening at all — should look to the Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department.

The department raised community center usage rates and adjusted hours in response to the very real problem of limited property tax revenue due to property tax caps.

But the howl raised by local residents in response to those moves was loud and persistent.

Greenwood responded to those complaints from residents and will open the community center on more days and lower the rates for families.

The community center has brought back a family pass, now called a household pass, though families will pay more.

The center also will be open on more Sundays throughout the year than originally planned.

In January, the city eliminated the family rate, which in 2013 was $135 for a family of five. And last year, the park board decided to close the community center on Sundays from April 1 through Oct. 31 because use of the gym and basketball courts drops off so much in the summer. Officials said the changes were made in order to save money and help the center pay for its own expenses.

Last month, the parks department hosted a public forum to discuss the changes. Residents brought up concerns about the rates, the Sunday closings and an increase in the age limit for senior memberships. The age limit changed from 55 to 65 in January, but the parks and recreation department switched it back in response to residents’ concerns.

Officials also discussed bringing back the family rate and a previous proposal would have set the new price at $260, but Rob Taggart, the parks and recreation department director, spoke with park board members, and they decided on a lower rate.

The park board approved the $225 household membership. The community center also is offering the yearlong household passes to residents for $190 during the month of March to help ease the transition to the price increase.

“We realized, hey, we might’ve jumped them up too much,” Taggart said.

Also in response to residents’ requests at the public forum, the community center is changing how many Sundays it will be open.

Residents asked for the option to exercise on Sundays, so the park board chose to add two months of Sundays back to the community center schedule. Now, the community center is slated to be closed on Sundays from May 1 to Sept. 30, and the park board will revisit the issue in the fall when reviewing this summer’s attendance.

Taggart’s comment reflects a public-first attitude that all government offices seek.

We commend the Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department on its relatively quick and decisive response to community complaint.

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