Sun Cities rec centers officials stay up-to-date on trends

By Rusty Bradshaw
Independent Newsmedia

Del Webb’s original Arizona retirement communities are more than 40 years old but still attracting new residents of all ages above the 55 minimum.

To keep homes occupied in their communities, rec centers officials in both communities must keep up with the changing times. They do this in a variety of ways.

Recreation Centers of Sun City officials conduct their own research using a variety of tools.

“Continuing research and awareness of current interests of gen Xers and millennials is ongoing,” Joelyn Higgins, RCSC communications and marketing coordinator, stated in an email. “We remain committed to listening to all comments and suggestions.”

RCSC officials also seek input from both prospective and new residents regarding the types of activities they are interested in pursuing, Ms. Higgins stated. They also keep in tune with other retirement communities across the nation as to what they are doing and adding to their list of activities and amenities, she added.

Recreation Centers of Sun City officials follow similar paths. The corporation also has memberships in the APRA and NPRA.

members of a couple different organizations such as APRA and NPRA.

“We keep up on the information they release about national and state trends,” Katy O’Grady, RCSCW general services officer. “Likewise, we watch what our competition in the age-restriction arena is doing as well.”

The retirement community field is always changing as new residents move into retirement. However, rec centers officials cannot focus only on new residents and their desires. The average age in both communities is more than 70, so the long-time residents continue to look for their particular interests.

“We strive to keep up with those changing desires, without forgetting our base,” Ms. O’Grady stated. “We have a generation gap of some 50 years. That’s a wide array of tastes to accommodate when it comes to dances, concerts, clubs, special events, etc. Based on the feedback we get, though, we’re doing a pretty good job.”

Balancing more than one generation’s needs is nothing new to RCSC officials, according to Ms. Higgins.

“We have been doing it for quite some time now,” she stated. “RCSC strives to have a number of activities that cater to all of our cardholders by offering a variety of music choices and events, such as Casino Night and the Dive-In Movie.”

Varying activity levels of members also dictates what they are able and/or willing to do, Ms. Higgins added. For example, there are many still dancing in their 80s while some that age are restricted to perhaps only card and board games or craft clubs, she added.

Katy O’Grady

Rec centers officials in both communities are in a continual cycle of updating their amenities to ensure they are maintained at the “Del Webb standard” — if Del Webb were to build these same amenities today, what products and materials would he use? Countertops, paint colors and other updates have been undertaken in centers in both communities. Both organizations have a reserve funds that allow for facility upgrades and equipment replacement payment as they become worn out.

“This is funded for the most part through new members moving in, and in smaller part by excess revenues at the end of the year and through interest revenue,” Ms. O’Grady stated.

One RCSCW project underway this year is updating the R.H. Johnson Recreation Center pool, 19803 R.H. Johnson Blvd. The $4 million project will provide entirely new aquatics center when complete and open in August. It also will include a great lawn and stage area outside the pool area, leading from the lower R.H. Johnson campus up staircases to the upper R.H. Johnson Center in a way that was never accessible before, according to Ms. O’Grady.

“This will bring the whole center together and create a real gathering place and drawing card for our community,” Ms. O’Grady stated.

Other projects have included rotating fitness equipment at those amenities, the establishment of Lizard Acres Trail Guide, introducing virtual reality activities for older residents with reduced mobility and updated signage at the centers.

Joelyn Higgins

RCSC officials reinstated their Long Range Planning Committee during the board’s June 29 meeting, and the group will be responsible for researching potential future projects and those already planned, according to Ms. Higgins.

“The projects already slated on the long-range plan are likely to be addressed first,” Ms. Higgins stated.
The committee is scheduled to begin meeting again on a regular basis in the fall.

RCSC officials have been on an aggressive path to update numerous facilities over the past several years, including remodeling at recreation centers and golf courses. However, all capital improvement projects were put on hold in January due to pending litigation challenging, among other things, the validity of using Preservation and Improvement Funds for capital projects without a vote of the members.

Ms. Higgins offered no comment on how the litigation could affect future planning. If the plaintiffs — 39 individual Sun City residents — prevail in the lawsuit, it could have a ripple effect for other retirement communities.

However, RCSCW officials are staying the course for the time being.

We are watching the (RCSC) situation; should anything change in that arena, we will obviously react to it,” Ms. O’Grady stated. “But as of now, it is business as usual for us.”

She added RCSCW has a healthy reserves and officials have conservatively budgeted for a number of years to ensure they are covering capital expenses, while putting away funds to cover future costs.

“Home sales have been strong, so we are in good shape,” Ms. O’Grady said.

Home sales in Sun City are also brisk.

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