For those that may be new to the Highlands community, you may not be aware of “the Rec” or how the Highlands Recreation District, (the District) came to be. Established in 1957, the District was formed in order to construct and operate recreation facilities that were desired by the Highlands residents and is governed by a 5-member elected Board of Directors and managed by an experienced and dedicated staff.
“The Rec” lies on 3.4 acres of land and includes 3 lighted tennis courts, playground, sports court, grass area, picnic gazebo, a 6-lane 25-yard swimming pool with diving well and board, a main building with approximately 5,000 sq ft containing a gym, kitchen, social room, fitness room and an administrative office. It also includes a 3,000 sq ft Early Education Center with dedicated play space, registration office and public meeting room with kitchenette.
The original facilities and operations were fully funded through property taxes, while the EEC was funded through certificates of participation and is supported through fees charged by the program. As a result of Proposition 13 that was passed in 1978, the District became less dependent on property taxes and relied more on memberships and fees for service to operate. Today property taxes make up approximately 26% of the District’s operating revenues and the rest is primarily fees charged for service. Prior to this fiscal year and the COVID pandemic, property taxes made up a smaller portion of the District’s operating budget.
The District recently completed a lengthy capital improvement project to construct a fully accessible ramp and restroom project that began in October 2019. The necessary project which cost approximately $1.47 million to complete consisted of a new ADA Accessible Ramp, deck expansion overlooking tennis courts, new stand-alone restroom building featuring separate men’s and women’s facilities, remodeled family restroom, a remodel of the Social Room interior and the seismic retrofit of the gymnasium. The enhancements will provide considerable benefit to the users of the facility, particularly for the After School Program (ASP), facility rentals and recreation classes which operate out of the facility.
The District has a long history of conservative budgets and maintaining responsible reserves. The recent construction project drew down those reserves considerably which are further exacerbated by lower revenues due to the pandemic. These revenues are what currently fund capital improvements. As the District rebounds from the pandemic, we will look strategically to the future to address much of the deferred maintenance and capital investment that is needed to sustain “the Rec” for another 60 years.
Stay tuned to learn more about “the Rec” over the next several months, including Proposition 68 Per Capita Grant Funding that will help provide for some needed amenities and improvements for the whole community to enjoy.
Parks Make Life Better!
HRD General Manager