Participation increasing in recreation department

Riverhead parks and recreation superintendent Ray Coyne presented a report earlier this month on the department’s programming and participation, which reflected an 11 percent increase in total registrations from 2017 to 2018.

“We’re back to where we should be,” Mr. Coyne said, noting that 4,336 people have participated in recreation department programs so far this year, up from 3,911 in 2017.

Using the data, the department identified several areas to focus on in order to boost participation.

In 2016, Mr. Coyne said, they noticed more women were signing up for programs than men, which resulted in adding programming to appeal to men such as basketball and golf. “It worked. We saw a 14 percent increase overall from 2016 to 2018,” he said.

The age group that makes the most use of town recreation programs is youth up to 9 years old, he said. Among 10- to 19-year-olds, participation has declined. 

“There’s a lot for kids in that age group besides Riverhead recreation,” Councilman Jim Wooten observed.

Another age group targeted with increased programming over three years was 20- to 39-year-olds, among whom participation has since increased by 81 percent, Mr. Coyne said.

He said participation remains strong for adults and seniors over 50. 

“Pickleball has exploded,” the superintendent said, adding that the department would need to brainstorm programs for those ages 40 to 49. Participation in that age group dipped from 77 in 2017 to just 12 in 2018.

Another area of concern Mr. Coyne’s report addressed was exercise programs.

“It’s trending down,” he noted.

While exercise programs drew 334 participants in 2016, only 268 signed up in 2018.

Classes offered include CrossFit, yoga, Zumba, cardio and a popular “Biggest Loser” program, he said.

Councilwoman Catherine Kent suggested that participation could reflect changes to workout regimens.

“Maybe some of our [classes] are not on-trend,” she said. “Exercise classes are something that kind of come and go.”

Mr. Coyne said the department would review which classes are doing better than others. Newer programs, such as beach yoga classes, have strong participation.

“Maybe we offer too many classes,” he said. “We’ve added a whole bunch and didn’t take away any.”

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Photo caption: The Town of Riverhead Recreation Department on Shade Tree Lane offers programs for all ages. (Tara Smith photo)