Parks Dept. looking for new assistant, more pool revenues

Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Erin Ray

Municipal meetings don’t generally come with their own soundtracks, but the October session of the Greencastle Board of Park Commissioners maybe should have.

It’s not like the resignation of Assistant Park Director/Aquatics Director Erin Ray was a “when hell freezes over” moment like The Eagles rock group endured in a long-ago breakup. In fact, Ray was technically “already gone” Monday night by the time Park Board members encountered their version of “heartache tonight.”

Ray is leaving the department after 16 months to take the recreation coordinator position for the City of Auburn Parks and Recreation Department. Her last day on the job in Greeencastle will be Saturday, Oct. 27 when she has three Halloween-themed activities planned to supervise locally.

It was Park Board member Beva Miller who attempted to invoke The Eagles’ mystique in trying to convince Ray to change her mind.

“I tried to tell her it’s like ‘Hotel California,’” Miller said of The Eagles’ classic with the haunting lyric, “You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.”

But Ray’s mind is already made up -- peaceful, easy feeling and all -- as the 2017 Indiana State University grad plans to head north to be closer to her longtime boyfriend.

“I am very thankful for all of the experiences and opportunities this position has given me and I am looking forward to taking what I have learned and applying it to my next job,” Ray said in her resignation letter to the board. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work for such a wonderful city and amazing Parks and Recreation Department.”

Park Director Rod Weinschenk and the board were reciprocal in their praise of Ray.

“Erin has graciously agreed to stay on through the Halloween Extravaganza,” Weinschenk noted in reference to the Oct. 27 events of Revenge of Frankenstein (1-2:30 p.m.), a pumpkin-carving contest (3-5 p.m.) and the Hunt for the Great Pumpkin (7:30 p.m.) for which registration can be made online at with a special price of $15 for all three programs.

Overall, Park Board member Cathy Merrell assessed, Ray’s effort “have been huge” in creating new programs and making existing ones better, as well as running the city pool more smoothly than it has operated in recent summers.

Weinschenk said the department is already in the process of advertising the position on Indiana parks websites and to career centers at Indiana State, Purdue University and others.

In the wake of her impending departure after running the pool the past two summers, Ray offered some suggestions for the future, especially in regard to increasing aquatic center revenues.

She suggested a definite need to raise pool rental fees, noting that the current $170 charge for rental groups of up to 75 people should be increased to $200; that the $230 fee for rental by 76-150 people should go to $250 and the price for renting the pool by a group of 151 or more should be $350.

It was noted at the last Park Board meeting that the cost of operating the pool and providing lifeguards for two-hour pool rentals is barely covered by the lowest rental fees.

However, Ray, like the Park Board before her, strongly suggested leaving the daily admission price at $5 per person -- unless additional features, such as a lazy river, could be developed. Robe-Ann Park has plenty of room and pool deck space for such an addition, Ray noted.

She did suggest that a $3 entry fee for admission during “twilight hours” from 5-7 p.m. might attract additional patrons. Park Board members liked that notion but took no action on any of the fee-hike suggestions at this point.

Perhaps the most drastic change Ray suggested was the possibility of combining the admission of the pool and entry to the now-admission-free splash park during summer hours.

While no study has been done to verify it, pool and park personnel have expressed the opinion that free use of the splash park, particularly by moms with young children, has taken a bite out of pool revenues. Ray’s suggestion was leaving the splash park free from 10 a.m. until noon daily, but once the pool opens, the outside splash park gate would be closed, allowing only for entry through the pool after paying the $5 admission (current price) between noon and 7 p.m.

Of course, the city has an agreement with the Greencastle Civic League, which spearheaded the splash park project, that there would be free admission to splash park during its first 10 years, Park Board members noted.

This summer was the fourth year for operation of the Bob York Memorial Splash Park, which opened Aug. 4, 2014, so any possible change is a ways off.

“It’s something to think about in the future,” Weinschenk said of the revised fee possibility following Ray’s parting thoughts.

“It’s been a pleasure working for you,” Ray told the Park Board before it adjourned. “I’m going to miss it.”

Or, perhaps as another Eagles’ lyric -- ironically from “The New Kid in Town” -- offers, “They will never forget you ‘til somebody new comes along ...”

The Park Board will next meet in regular session at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1 at City Hall.

View 4 comments
Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. Please note that those who post comments on this website may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.
  • If you charge for the splash pad, you will just lose those families. I take my kids there because it's safer, and its affordable. We won't be paying money to use it, and I'm sure we won't be the only ones.

    -- Posted by hometowngirl626 on Wed, Oct 10, 2018, at 6:07 AM
  • Raising the group rental prices is acceptable because you are at cost at the current rates, but instead of losing Moms and Babies in Splash Park, please don't. If you want to raise a huge amount of money from the pool, OPEN IT EARLIER, as in a Month before school is out, on evenings and week-ends to rental parties or general public; and keep it open on evenings and weekends After school is back in session for another month. Adults who are also qualified Lifeguards would be available. No Lazy River idea will ever qualify as cost effective, as you would spend a Dollar to make a Dime more and there is no guarantee of larger crowds.

    -- Posted by alfr1 on Wed, Oct 10, 2018, at 12:54 PM
  • Erin’s departure will leave a huge void. She brought so much energy & vitality to the parks department, especially the aquatics center. The lifeguards were much better trained and professional (and happy). It will be hard to replace her. Good luck Erin!

    -- Posted by 3m50 on Wed, Oct 10, 2018, at 2:27 PM
  • I know families that legitimately can't afford the pool admission and utilize the splash pad on a daily basis during the summer. I would hate to see these families on the outside looking in - literally.

    -- Posted by raisingcaine1 on Thu, Oct 11, 2018, at 1:36 PM
Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: