Enrollment for warm weather parks and recreation programs has exceeded pre-COVID-19 attendance in Blount County.
At the March meeting of the Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation Board, Executive Director Joe Huff said enrollment has “taken off.”
Football recorded a particularly large registration, which ended on February 25. Around 645 players joined and formed 45 teams. The season will tentatively start in early April and last six weeks.
“We’ve seen an increase in all of our sign-ups,” assistant manager Chris Clark said, adding that not only has program attendance exceeded 2019’s numbers, but many new coaches and players have joined.
“We hope the spring and summer will be busy,” Recreation Specialist Missey Wright later said.
Like other locations in Tennessee, Blount County is experiencing strong growth, affecting a wide range of community-related locations and programs.
According to studies by United Van Lines, Tennessee was the seventh most popular state to move to in 2021 and 2020. A trend showed an exodus to smaller and mid-sized places, likely related to new lifestyles affected by the pandemic.
“With the warmer weather, we saw a lot of activity in the parks,” said maintenance superintendent Brian Keyl. Although last weekend’s weather forecast caused some outdoor activity cancellations, spring is officially a week away.
The commission approved spending $4,520 from the Maryville Capital Fund for Sandy Springs Park improvements to replace a cracked slide and windshields around the tennis courts.
With manufacturing delays, it may take until late summer or early fall to get the new slide.
New LED lights were recently completed in Sandy Springs, and Maryville Utilities Manager Angie Luckie said bids are out this month for more work to be done at the park: building sidewalks that conform to the ADA and a parking lot on the same side of the road. .
This will be the final phase of Sandy Springs updates.
Springbrook Pool will open on May 28 and John Sevier Pool on May 21.
Parks & Rec is currently recruiting lifeguards, concession workers and markers.
Huff said one of the biggest challenges in recent years has been finding workers.
In an attempt to meet the challenge, the department partnered with county schools to post job openings. Huff hopes they will soon work with schools in Maryville and Alcoa.
“The schools have been great letting us do this,” said Superintendent of Recreation Kelly Forster. “We’re very lucky, really, to have good partnerships in this community and resources, because pretty much if we ask for something, you know, there’s a way to solve it or vice versa. So I think it’s just a real privilege that we have here.
The administration of Park & Rec has also increased the hourly wage to compete with other jobs.