Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey hires firm to market Recreation and Aquatic Center

NEW PORT RICHEY — Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of New Port Richey's Recreation and Aquatic Center.

But City Manager John Schneiger believes that due to woeful marketing efforts, many people have no idea the facility — sometimes called the city's crown jewel — even exists.

The center at 6630 Van Buren St. is in financial crisis, losing an estimated $1.8 million this year. That includes debt service and the inability to generate memberships to offset the costs of running the facility.

Now, because of slow response to the annual summer camps at the center, Schneiger has temporarily hired a marketing firm to get the word out.

His plan surprised some when he sought City Council approval to hire deChant Public Relations & Media Management — run by former council member Marilynn deChant and partner Lia Gallegos — to a three-month contract. The city will pay the firm $3,500-a-month.

"I just felt a sense of urgency. The city has never taken an approach to marketing the center whatsoever, which makes to no sense to me," Schneiger said. "And I think the council has realized not marketing it for five years was a mistake."

Schneiger said deChant will be paid with funds already allotted in this year's budget for a marketing director position. He said he did not go through a bid process because of the emergency situation the center faces.

deChant said she is thrilled at the chance to market the center and help the city turn things around for it financially.

"We are really excited to get this going," deChant told the Times.

"I have real comfort level with them," Schneiger said of the firm. "Particularly, Lia is very talented in the area of social media which I think the city has never really taken advantage of. And they are both very active in the community and obviously have the city's best interest at heart."

deChant said she and Schneiger discussed her past service on the council.

"Why should I be penalized for my past service to the community? I am offering skills that I have honed for years to the city," deChant said.

Prior to signing a contract with deChant, Schneiger announced to the council his intentions, which he said garnered support from a majority, though he said council member Judy DeBella Thomas expressed disappointment that the executive director of Greater New Port Richey Main Street was not given an opportunity to market the center.

The Main Street program received a $25,000 grant this budget season from the city, and DeBella Thomas argued the organization should get a crack at marketing the center. Executive Director Beth Fregger acknowledged she made a pitch to Schneiger to market the center.

"I was surprised," Fregger said of Schneiger signing deChant. "I thought there was going to be a real search. But in the short-term, I think hiring somebody local for this immediate need was not a bad idea. I am really interested in long term."

But Schneiger said Main Street may not be an option for long-term marketing of the firm as Main Street's mission of downtown economic development is "apples and oranges" compared to marketing the recreation center.

Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe said he had no problem with the temporary hire without putting it out to bid.

"They're certainly capable," he said of deChant Public Relations. "And it's certainly within the city manager's purview at the cost level and length of the contract. This really needed to happen yesterday due to the lack of promotion of the summer camps, so I'm not going to second guess it."

Mayor Bob Consalvo said deChant's past service to the city will be an asset in the coming months in marketing the center.

"I think they are really enthusiastic to help," Consalvo said. "And I think Ms. deChant's knowledge of the city will really help her get the job done."

>>Fast facts

Center will celebrate anniversary

The New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center, at 6630 Van Buren St., will be holding an anniversary celebration from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Tours will be available and various class instructors will be on hand to talk. Free hot dogs, beverages, cake, Starbucks coffee, and items from Bagel Queen will also be available. There will also swim team demonstrations and a Guinness World Record attempt for the longest continuous pickleball game. The facility will be closed to regular activities during the event and open again at 1 p.m. Information will also be available about the recreation center's summer camp starting in June and the new membership rates for residents and nonresidents now in effect. For details call (727) 845-4160. For current news and updates, vist the center's Facebook page:

New Port Richey hires firm to market Recreation and Aquatic Center 05/17/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 8:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  2. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  3. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.
  4. Study: Pollution kills 9 million a year, costs $4.6 trillion


    NEW DELHI — Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    New Delhi’s landmark India Gate, a war memorial, is engulfed in morning smog on Friday.
  5. Quarterback Jameis Winston will start Sunday for the Bucs


    TAMPA — Jameis Winston hadn't thrown in practice since he injured his right shoulder in Sunday's loss at Arizona, and with that uncertainty, a wide line of TV cameras and reporters' cellphones were all out Friday morning, recording the moment as Winston tested his shoulder with his first throws early in …

    Despite a sore shoulder, Jameis Winston will be making his 38th consecutive start since being drafted first overall in 2015.