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Resident Blasts Rec Center's Equipment Maintenance Record

The borough is trying to address resident complaints about its failure to keep equipment in the youth and exercise centers working.

After months of private grumbling by residents about the upkeep of arcade and exercise machines in the Community Center's upstairs youth and fitness areas, a resident finally brought the issue to council's attention at Tuesday's public meeting.

"Over the last couple of months, I’ve seen [the rec center] deteriorate at an unbelievable rate," said Doug Blauschild, a 33-year resident who called the center one of the highlights of Fair Lawn. "Some of the equipment now hasn’t been repaired in six to eight weeks in the exercise room upstairs."

Blauschild praised the facility, which he said he's used regularly for about four years, but called its current condition "deplorable."

"I’ve spoken to the people when I go on Saturday and Sunday, they say that things are being repaired, and there’s been no repair," said Blauschild, adding that the televisions in the exercise room also haven't worked in at least two months.

Kyle DiVito, who regularly uses the free weights in the rec center's exercise room, said broken machines are a frequent topic of conversation among residents who use the facility. He said machines are usually out of order from a few days to a few weeks, but that it's been months since one of the room's two recumbent bicycles has worked.

Jetti Rachlin, who's used the exercise room for its treadmills and stationary bikes since the building opened, said the space often gets crowded and lines form for use of the equipment.

With only eight exercise machines to begin with — two bikes, three treadmills and three elliptical machines — and a couple usually in need of repair, Rachlin said the proposed plan to share the facility with Saddle Brook would only create a bigger mess.

"What’s the good of having [an exercise room] if everyone waits?" she said.

Residents have launched similar maintenance-related complaints about the rec center's arcade area, where anywhere from one-fifth to one-half of its 20 machines have been out of order during five separate Patch visits over a ten-month period.

Between the two areas, four arcade games -- two of which have been out of commission most of, if not all of this year -- an elliptical machine and a recumbent bicycle were not working during a visit this week.

Recreation supervisor Jim Graff, who is in charge of the facility, was unavailable for comment, but both borough manager Tom Metzler and community center council liaison John Cosgrove said a purchase order had been cut for the repair of the broken exercise equipment.

Metzler explained Tuesday that budget constraints had forced the borough to revise its exercise equipment maintenance policy and start bundling repairs at the center, resulting in a slow down of individual repairs.

"In the past, when a single unit broke down we would call for repair," he said. "Obviously the costs for doing that were greater than trying to bundle it all together."

Now, the department waits until multiple pieces of the same equipment type are broken before making a service call.

"It’s a decision on the part of the department head, but it’s a decision I support," Metzler said. "When we go through budget reviews, I ask department heads to do more with less. Everybody says the town’s got to run more efficiently. Well this is one of the things we’re trying to do to run more efficiently."

Along the same lines, the borough now maximizes its servicing of the arcade machines by scheduling repairs going into the fall and winter months, when the youth center is operating at its greatest capacity, Metzler said.

The community center non-profit's recent fundraising woes have also contributed to hiccoughs in equipment upkeep, said Cosgrove, the former chairman of the Community Center 501(c)3 Committee.

Cosgrove said that until this year, the 501(c)3 committee had paid for the center's upkeep, including $36,000 over three years to keep the arcade games running, among other things. Now the borough is paying for all of the center's maintenance because the 501(c)3 can't afford to any longer.

Cosgrove said he hopes money raised at upcoming fundraising events, including a $60 per person night of dinner and dancing with the Cameos scheduled for next Saturday, will begin to re-stock the community center 501(c)3's coffers.

If money ultimately does become available, Cosgrove said he'd like to replace some of the older arcade machines that are outdated and frequently break down with newer ones.

He said Cablevision's recent all-digital switchover, which requires customers to have a cable set top box for all televisions, is behind the exercise room's non-functioning TVs. The rec center will soon install boxes on each of the fitness room's eight televisions and they'll be up-and-running again before the end of the year, Cosgrove said.

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Sue M October 19, 2012 at 11:11 PM
All 5 members of the council and Manager Metzler knew. I told them months ago.
Adolpho MJM October 20, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Wow Tommy P stopped complaining here and actually went to a council meeting.
Jackweoff October 20, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Out of Order says the sign, and there is more disorder than order in Fair Lawn lately. Zak, how about posting the facts about the rec center, annual and monthly costs, what the rec center really costs the boro taxpayers. Seems to me there has been a true story never told about the rec center. MJM, you post 13 million, yet I understand the mortgage on this behemoth well over 30 million dollars. What is this building costing taxpayers for the last time?
Jackweoff October 20, 2012 at 03:15 AM
"It’s a decision on the part of the department head, but it’s a decision I support," Metzler said. "When we go through budget reviews, I ask department heads to do more with less. Everybody says the town’s got to run more efficiently. Well this is one of the things we’re trying to do to run more efficiently." Run more efficiently? Not replacing things right away makes things in-efficient, hence why people complain. If things are budgeted properly, things get replaced regularly but it is well known Fair Lawn is so far behind repairing parks, equiptment, streets, etc, that taxes are bound to skyrocket. Failure after failure, the mess continues!
Jack October 20, 2012 at 03:22 AM
I wonder if putting these off saves enough for Metzler's pay increase next year.....
josh October 20, 2012 at 01:40 PM
First they had a sign up that the tv's would be working by the end of august, now it is the end of the year ( 5 months later ). Metzler is probably lying about that time frame too. He is just kicking it down the road. Im sure in january he will say june. He does not even mention if he is taking bids from other carriers. What is this secretive 501c3 that they are talking about?
BellairBerdan October 20, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Cablevision office is about 5 blocks away. I got those boxes for free for a year and they sent out a person to install them. Why don't they have a service contract for the machines? Doesn't really make sense to me how it is more efficient to let broken machines pile up. That means if only one machine is broken it can sit for years until another breaks? What this does do is starve the facility so people will complain how govt doesn't work, coincidentally the real Republican plan for Americans.
Jay Kennedy October 20, 2012 at 03:05 PM
You lose all credibility when you try to tie stupidity in management with a politcal party.
Jenne October 20, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Where are all the pool libertarians to say that the exercise room should be closed and people should become members of a 'private' gym instead? Clearly if the machines are so hard to keep running, the township is spending tax money to repair them.
BellairBerdan October 20, 2012 at 04:31 PM
You are partially right concerning management. They have to decide where to spend the money and how much they allocate to the supervisors and whether to use the tax money on the People or to give raises to managers and lawyers. You cannot deny the efforts of the party to strangle the government and privatize..
josh October 20, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Bundling the repairs-there are only 2 bikes and one has been broken for over a month, probably more. Do we have to wait for the other to break? Also the sign on the broken bike says the part is "back ordered". There is nothing saying that they have no intention of fixing it until the other is broken. Don't bother calling Graff-i called numeous times and e-mailed. He does not return calls.
Deleted because of harassment October 20, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Too few machines of all kinds and too high a demand to justify the lack of repairs is pretty ironic given all the people that claim the Community Center is an unused facility. It's not - and think of how much "pull" anyone as an individual has with Cablevision that they won't even automatically fix the problem they created for the community, but let it slide for months and months before they just repair it? How much of a technical challenge is it to install cable boxes? I did both of my own and I think it took me about ten minutes, including the time allowed for figuring out how to do it with the DVD players and set up the TV...Call me, Jimmy, if you want me to set it up for you, for free.
Zak Koeske October 20, 2012 at 08:03 PM
@Josh - It is my understanding that the bike is back ordered. No word on when it will arrive.
Jenne October 20, 2012 at 10:39 PM
There's the definition of libertarian and then there's how libertarian-identified people talk. A number of those who bitch about the pool self-identify as libertarians.
Jenne October 20, 2012 at 10:41 PM
The big question is, would anyone buy the building for what Fair Lawn owes on it? My impression is we'd be underwater on it. Purpose-built facilities are hard to sell.
josh October 21, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I think that back ordered sign has been up since the summer. It is a common piece of equipment. I can't believe it can take that long to get but then again the original note about the tv's in ajgust said they would be back working in" a few weeks"
Tommy P October 22, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I am a libertarian Republican, I am against the subsidies of the pool and the rec center. I know where the money comes from, here is a hint, it's not a tree. It comes from those of us who live here, either directly or indirectly. When government spends money on these entertainment programs, it takes the money under threat of force from everyone. We need to stop subsidizing these programs, instead let's run them on donations. I suspect your name appear on this list of people complaining about the lack service and be missing on the list of donors.....
Tommy P October 22, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Nope, I was at the Great Wall of China.
Tommy P October 22, 2012 at 02:02 AM
It's the mistake that keeps on taking.
Tommy P October 22, 2012 at 02:05 AM
It's the way the center should be run. It's what makes Cosgrove different from the other clowns on the council. It's another way of saying, the money was not stolen from the people of Fair Lawn.
Tommy P October 22, 2012 at 02:06 AM
We have 12,000 residents, the community center does have 200 users a month. Perspective is a funny thing. We all pay so a few can use.
TinyTimber October 22, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I have a great idea, close the community center, sell it, then I can afford a exercize machine in my own home! I will also repair my own machine with my own money quicker than the borough. The community center is a re-distribution of wealth on Fair Lawn taxpayers backs, with no vote allowed by taxpayers!
George October 24, 2012 at 02:28 PM
The Community Center is for the kids, I think you all forget that.

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