Michael D. Clark reports:
The center point of the Mason community will soon turn 10 and will enter its second decade making its first-ever profit, thanks to the additions of private companies.
The giant Mason Community Center will celebrate its 10-year anniversary on March 1 but there has already been something else to cheer about in the last year for the once-financially troubled facility.
“2012 was our first year of operating in the black,” says Jennifer Heft, Mason’s assistant city manager. “The center is doing extremely well because of the changes in the last two years.”
The recent additions of Tri-Health’s Group Health medical offices – housed in a 27,000-square-foot, two-story addition on the north side of the massive center – and a private, medical lab facility has helped cover operating expenses, Heft says.
“We were losing a $1 million a year,” prior to the partnership with private health providers, Heft says.
The $23 million center has an annual operating budget of $4.6 million and handles more than 315,000 visitors a year in the 199,000-square-foot multi-use facility. Its features include:
• A giant fitness area.
• More than $900,000 in exercise equipment, gyms, two large indoor pools and an indoor running track.
• A renovated and expanded senior citizens center, postal office and café.
The center is also connected to Mason High School – one of the largest high schools in Ohio (enrollment 3,400) – and across a parking lot from Mason Municipal Center. The center, city hall and Mason’s high school and nearby middle school are all located on a 72-acre campus stretching along the eastern side of South Mason-Montgomery Road.
Mason Community Center’s unusual combination of public, taxpayer-funded facilities – combined with private-sector company leasers – makes it the largest community center of its kind in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
“We wanted the center to be the hub of the community,” Heft says. “And what also makes us unique is that we’ve taken a business approach to the center and we have reached out for partnerships. We have display areas for local businesses and the center has become a huge economic tool for us.”
Ideally, she says, a newcomer to Mason or surrounding Deerfield Township communities would be told by current residents that the community center is the place to go if they want to get more involved.
For information, visit www.imaginemason.org/ or call 513-229-8555.