Recreation News published despite cessation of activities in The Villages

The Recreation News will continue to be published despite a cessation of virtually all recreation activities in The Villages due to concerns about the Coronavirus.

A 16-page edition of the Recreation News was published this past Thursday and distributed in The Villages Daily Sun.

The Recreation & Parks Department has canceled all recreation sponsored events through April, the swimming pools have been shut down and The Enrichment Academy has canceled or postponed all its classes.

I was a little surprised to even see a Recreation News published this week in view of the drive to get Villagers to stay at home,” said Community Development District 2 Chairman Bryan Lifsey.

A story in the Recreation News encouraged residents to stay active while activities are on hold due to the Coronavirus.

The scaled-down edition of the Recreation News did not include the voluminous listing of clubs and meetings that usually dominates each week’s publication.

Instead, the Recreation News featured stories such as “Instructors to Villagers: Continue to Walk Away the Pounds at Home.” In the story, instructors advised residents to keep up with their fitness efforts by seeking guidance through videos, DVDs and social media.

“The main goal is to keep residents connected and to message out rec and park opportunities as we deal with this pandemic virus,” said District Manager Richard Baier.

He pointed out that Recreation News has been scaled down from 62 to 16 pages.

The Amenity Authority Committee, which oversees amenity money north of County Road 466, and the Project Wide Advisory Committee, which oversees amenity money south of County Road 466, had each been scheduled to hold budget workshops earlier this month, during which Recreation News was to be put under a microscope. Those budget workshops were not held due to the Coronavirus crisis.

“In my opinion the Recreation News, which takes $800,000 per year from our resident-paid amenity fees, should not be in the newspaper at all. It should be made available online and at kiosks in the recreation centers,” said Bill Schikora, a CDD 2 supervisor.

Critics of the Recreation News contend it is a job-printing cash cow for the Developer-owned newspaper.

However, one of those critics, Amenity Authority Committee member Don Deakin, found value in the most-recent edition of the Recreation News.

Although I support Carl Bell’s proposal to move the Recreation News into the electronic media arena with computer kiosks at each recreation center, with all indoor centers closed right now, I think this particular edition was a worthwhile endeavor and I support its publication in The Daily Sun in light of the Coronavirus crisis.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with in the next edition to justify additional publications,” Deakin said.

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