New policy implemented at PLWC

The Parks, Recreation and Forestry Board approved a policy prohibiting the use of recording devices for commercial purposes

Those looking to promote their fitness business or another private commercial enterprise will no longer be allowed to publish video and photos featuring any part of Watertown’s Prairie Lakes Wellness Center without the consent of PLWC officials.

In an unanimous decision by the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Board Tuesday night at the Park and Rec Fieldhouse, the board approved the policy prohibiting the use of recording devices for commercial purposes unless otherwise authorized. The policy was drafted by City Attorney Matt Roby and approved at the request of PLWC Executive Director John Small.

Small said the policy is designed to curb a promotional practice that began with the center’s opening slightly over one year ago.

“What’s happening is that people have their own private fitness facility or business they’re going to open and they’re promoting their business through our facility by taking pictures of themselves in our facility and using our equipment as well as the background of the building itself,” Small said. “We just don’t feel that it’s right.”

To that end, if PLWC discovers that somebody has published any videos or photos featuring any aspect of the center without any authorization, whether it be to social media or another media platform, to further commercial interests, PLWC officials will ask the uploading party to take down the offending material within 24 hours of publication.

“We’d like to be able to control what’s out there as far as our personal look,” Small said.

If the material exceeds the 24 hours but is eventually removed, the person or persons responsible for publication may be subject to a maximum 30-day suspension from PLWC at the discretion of Small.

If the uploader continues to violate the policy by never removing the original offending material and/or upload new offending material, they face the likelihood of being either temporarily or permanently suspended from entering the wellness center.

Wellness Center numbers still strong

On a lighter note, Small reported that membership numbers are still strong at PLWC one year after the center first opened on March 20, 2017.

Since the center opened in northeast Watertown, it has drawn approximately twice the number of people the former Watertown Recreation Center drew in its last full calendar year of operation in 2016.

According to figures listed within the Park and Rec Board meeting packet, PLWC saw a total of 264,799 walking through its doors, blowing out the slightly over 120,000 people that walked through the former rec center’s doors in 2016.

Similarly, the average daily attendance for PLWC’s first year was 735 people. Once again, that handily eclipsed the former rec center’s 2016 average daily attendance of 333.

Altogether, membership contracts jumped 1,230 to 2,069.

“They’re still coming in,” Small said. “This month so far, we’ve had 85 new members.”

On a separate issue, the Park and Rec Board opted to hold off on establishing base fees to athletic associations using the city’s recreation facilities, most notably the two softball complexes and their concession stands, until possibly 2019.

The board’s decision effectively marks a reversal from the decision made last month when it opted to increase fees beginning this year to help cover the Park and Rec Department’s dwindling revenues.

The decision came after a lengthy discussion with Watertown Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Julie Knutson and representatives from several athletic associations.

For at least the next few months, the board will evaluate the facility fee system.