NEW PORT RICHEY – Beth Fregger, who promotes downtown as the executive director of the nonprofit Greater New Port Richey Main Street, is now tackling another cause: the city's financially struggling recreation center.
The City Council approved a contract Wednesday evening with Fregger to serve as marketing manager for the rec center, which has been hemorrhaging money since it opened in 2007. Still carrying debt and lacking enough memberships to cover expenses, the center was expected to lose $1.8 million this year, City Manager John Schneiger estimated in March.
For months, Schneiger and City Council members have been working toward hiring a marketing manager, saying the city has done little to advertise or promote the facility over the past five years. In May, they hired deChant Public Relations & Media Management — run by former council member Marilynn deChant and partner Lia Gallegos — on a temporary contract until they could line up someone longer term.
Under the six-month contract approved Wednesday, the city will pay Fregger $3,500 a month for 20 hours of work per week. She starts work on Monday.
"I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. There's going to be great results coming from it," said Fregger, who will continue her role at Main Street as well.
Fregger, 55, has more than 25 years of experience in marketing and advertising. She operates her own marketing firm in downtown New Port Richey with clients including Waffle House, the Florida Aquarium and WestShore Plaza.
She has been a downtown business owner since 2004, when she and her husband purchased the Chasco Inn, where she operates her business. Since January she has also been part-time executive director for Main Street.
"I know they need the help and I'm here. I work in the community and I'm active here," Fregger said of the city marketing job. "They need marketing for the center and that's my background. That's what I do."
Officials originally considered drawing on Fregger's expertise as part of the work she does at Main Street, which receives a grant from the city for its downtown initiatives. But City Council member Bob Langford and others expressed concern over mixing rec center promotions with Main Street.
Schneiger said the contract approved Wednesday is with Fregger's marketing business, not Main Street.
"They will have nothing to do with each other," he said.