Fruita center posts big numbers
Mark is guessing it will happen at 1:06 p.m. today. Emily is shooting for 5:45 p.m., and Jack pegged the time at 6:51 p.m. Monica thinks it will be at 7:10 a.m. Saturday, and Chance is going for a long shot, banking on 4:22 p.m. Sunday.
Those are the estimates of employees at the Fruita Community Center, but whenever it happens, lucky you if you’re the 100,000th person to gain admission. A reward will be better than the impromptu release of confetti and balloons or your name blasted over a loudspeaker.
The fortunate person with the spot-on timing will receive a free pool party, day passes for themselves and 10 friends, and pizza provided by Hot Tomato Cafe & Pizzeria in Fruita.
“We were noticing how close we were getting to that mark, and we thought it would be a good way to let everyone know how popular it’s been,” Kelly Griffin, fitness and special events supervisor, said of the center.
Numbers of users at the Fruita Community Center, 324 N. Coulson St., have far surpassed expectations, Griffin said. Organizers believed they would see 120,000 users within the first year. But the multiuse facility has been open for about six months, and numbers of users already are at the 100,000 mark. Those figures do not include patrons of the connected Fruita branch of the Mesa County Library or the senior center.
The center’s popularity could be traced to the building’s multi-faceted uses. On Thursday, the parking lot was packed with vehicles while more motorists looked for parking. Senior citizens were getting ready for lunch, while children in a city-run basketball camp burned up energy blasting around the gyms, up the stairs and around the track.
In the library, two elementary school-aged girls who had just been swimming in the pools, checked out books.
“I come with my niece,” said Dorothy Massey, a resident who lives in the buffer zone between Fruita and Grand Junction.
Massey said she visits the center about twice a week to work out on the exercise machines upstairs. Her niece enjoys the elliptical machine, and either takes her two children swimming or to the day care center while she works out.
Kyli Landsdown, 19, of Grand Junction, comes to the center so the two children she baby-sits can take swimming lessons in the outdoor pool.
“They like it here,” she said. “It’s better than sitting at home.”
People travel from as far away as De Beque to use the center, and patrons traveling from Grand Junction are common, Griffin said.
Because of the increased usage, the center hired additional lifeguards, group instructors and personal trainers, Griffin said.
Use also has doubled to about 350 to 450 people a day at the adjoining library compared with numbers of users at the city’s former library, Fruita Branch Manager Giselle Smith said. Some of the increases may be attributed to carryover from the community center. Others seek out the library because the bright, new space creates an inviting atmosphere, she said.
“It is so much better,” Lora Dougless said while perusing the shelves for books. “There’s so many more books.”
Dougless said she regularly stops by the center on Thursdays just to use the library. She doesn’t mind the crowds of children, but she knows other seniors do. A large room for children and children’s books helps keep the peace, she said.
Anyone who buys a pass to use the recreation center or swipes an already purchased pass can be eligible to win a pool party. The prospects of winning can be increased by using a little strategy. As of 11 a.m. Thursday, 99,158 people had gained access to the Fruita Community Center.
The center usually sees 700 people a day, but Thursday’s numbers were expected be more like 800.