An approximate $3.7 million fieldhouse at the Culpeper County Sports Complex was recently pitched to the Buildings & Grounds Committee as a multi-sport and programs facility that would be accessible to the public.
A monthly all-access pass to the building–with its large gym, basketball, volleyball and pickle ball courts, fitness studio, classrooms and board meeting space–would go for $65 while people could drop-in for $5 per visit, according to a presentation given last week by Culpeper County Parks & Recreation Department Director Andrew Hardy.
The fieldhouse would be open seven days a week and modeled after the one next to Orange County High School or Deep Run Recreation Center in Henrico. The fieldhouse could also house the administrative offices of Parks & Recreation and leave room for expansion.
Last week’s proposal came more than two years after Culpeper voters in 2018 rejected at referendum a $13.1 million YMCA on Route 229 that would have had an Olympic-sized competition pool and other YMCA offerings.
The proposal also came the same week as Culpeper Wellness Foundation, a local nonprofit that runs Powell Wellness Center and Culpeper Sports & Fitness Club, announced it was building a large recreation center at its headquarters off of Lovers Lane.
Neither of the new plans includes a public pool in announced initial phases and Culpeper County still does not have one.
Both the Culpeper County Parks & Recreation Association and Wellness Foundation opposed the YMCA with the former asking why the county department couldn’t run the rec center and the latter claiming the YMCA would lose money.
Annual operating expenses for the latest recreational proposal, the Culpeper County Fieldhouse, were estimated at $107,000, including hiring of a full-time facilities supervisor. Annual revenues were estimated higher than expenses, at $186,640, taking into account 4,140 yearly paid sports enrollment fees, 924 program fees and 194 facility rentals.
Per the proposal presented last week, pickle ball time slots would be held four times a week, open gym six days a week, adult basketball three days a week, volleyball twice a week and youth sports and programs given priority in three different time slots.
The fieldhouse would greatly expand opportunities for indoor sports and tournaments, Hardy said.
Culpeper County Board Chairman Gary Deal, a leading proponent for the failed YMCA, said the fieldhouse proposal is more concerned about providing equal access for everybody versus generating revenue.
Hardy responded that public recreation is all about access and availability and that the facility would be made affordable for Culpeper County residents so they can improve their quality of life. While Culpeper County Public Schools has been an outstanding partner for off-hours use of its gyms, the county pays for that and cannot operate programs when school is in session.
Catalpa Supervisor Paul Bates said he was excited about being able to host sports league tournaments at the fieldhouse saying it would bring a huge economic impact to the county.
Deal noted he hoped the project could “harmonize” and work together with other recreational facilities in the county.
He recommended the proposal be forwarded to the full board without a recommendation.
Cedar Mountain Supervisor Jack Frazier wondered if the plan was ready for full board review. Prior to the 2018 YMCA referendum, he was a leading voice against the project, claiming it would raise real estate taxes and compete with existing health clubs.
Deal said Hardy was ready to give a presentation to the board in March on the fieldhouse. The parks and recreation department director said the goal was to get the project funded in the capital improvements plan and move forward with it.
Bates said the proposal would allow the county to control costs so the facility could serve everybody in the Culpeper community.
“That is critical,” he said.
Said Frazier, “I like the concept.”
He added that he needed to look at the proposal some more before it’s presented to the full board in relation to finances going forward.