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Recreation services reduced

Andy Ouriel • Mar 1, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Sandusky recreation

WHAT IT FUNDS: Summer camp programs, the Paper District Marina, Mills Creek Golf Course, the Shelby Street Public Boat Launch and the Sandusky Bay Pavilion.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Public recreation is a key component to promote quality of life for area residents.

FUNDING WOES: Recreation received about a $38,000 cut in 2014 versus what was spent in 2013, forcing officials to cancel an outdoor concert series and popular fall-themed children’s festival among other cuts.

Sandusky city commissioners took no pleasure in reducing recreation services this year.


A citywide budget crunch, spotlighted by $1.1 million in cuts commissioners implemented this past Monday, included steep setbacks to recreation services.


Follow the money

The Register takes an in-depth look at Sandusky’s $16.3 million operating budget this week and tells readers where the money’s spent: 

•WEDNESDAY: Horticultural and greenhouse operations 

•THURSDAY: Sandusky Transit and public transportation 

•FRIDAY: Recreational assets 

•SATURDAY: Paving, plowing and patching up streets 

•SUNDAY: Dealing with a downsized fire department 

•MONDAY: Cemetery services


The recreation department stands to receive about $443,000 in 2014, an 8 percent decrease compared to 2013, when services required $481,000 in expenses.


Fewer dollars available triggered a series of cuts, including commissioners effectively:

•Canceling the Boo at the Bay Pumpkin Festival, a popular fall-themed children’s festival occurring in October just before Halloween.

•Eliminating the Beats by the Bay summer concert series at the Paper District Marina.


•Reducing the number of seasonal employees for the Summer Playground Program, a seven-week initiative providing children with meals and physical activities.

•Cutting down on staff at the Shelby Street Public Boat Launch. City officials are considering shutting it down for the entire year.


•Scaling back on supplies and materials at the marina, Mills Creek Golf Course and other areas in the department. It’s also possible these fiscal challenges could force officials to lay off some of the department’s 38 seasonal employees.

“The cuts in recreation will affect the department as a whole,” Sandusky recreation division supervisor Victoria Kurt said.

It hasn’t helped that Sandusky’s flagship recreational venue, the Paper District Marina, has collectively lost $103,000 since debuting in 2011, zapping funds from an already cash-strapped budget. Kurt said she plans on strategizing to find additional income for recreational services. Among them: creating more seasonal, or longterm, dockage at the marina, originally intended for transient, or short-term, docking.

“We will continue to promote our events, activities, facilities and camps to the best of our abilities while staying within our budget,” Kurt said.

Many people are disappointed by the cuts, including Annette Wells, the Maritime Museum of Sandusky’s director. The museum partnered with the city’s recreation department for many activities, including the Boo at the Bay Pumpkin Festival.

“The Maritime Museum is hoping that this is just a temporary thing because I think it’s important for the city to co-sponsor local events like this for the community,” Wells said. “Events and services like the ones offered at Sandusky’s parks give local families the opportunity to see what their hometown has to offer”

   Despite city official canceling this year’s Boo at the Bay Pumpkin Festival, Wells said the museum will still offer a full slate of fall activities during a weekend in mid-to-late October.

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