Public Rec Center opens in BI

Joining fee waived for everyone through Sept. 17

After officially completing the sale last week, the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District opened its rec center Tuesday in place of the previous private athletic club.

“Everybody’s just over the moon excited about this opportunity to make this more accessible to the general community,” recreation division director Mark Benishek said. “With the parks district, our mission is to serve the Bainbridge Island community and make things more accessible. That’s why we pursued the purchase of this building.”

This first week is called Welcome Week where everyone has free access to weight and cardio equipment, fitness and tennis classes, limited pool offerings along with multi-use courts through Sunday. Due to COVID-19 protocols, masks are required at all times. Operating hours this week are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the weekend. Participants need to submit a waiver at birec.org or upon arrival.

Additionally, a small promotion is ongoing through Sept. 17 where the entire joining fee has been waived for everyone. After that, the joining fee will be reinstated for non-island residents. The joining fee and other fees are reduced for locals since their taxes help offset and fund its operations, Benishek said.

Benishek said the rec center is offering much of the same services as the Bainbridge Athletic Club did and plans to keep it that way to start but will add in more components over time. “We really wanted to keep a lot of those and the continuity of that similar in these early stages to kind of ease the transition,” he said.

“I think over time, we’ll continue to merge some of our existing programs…provide more opportunities to anybody who’s on a monthly plan in one conducive space. That’s why we called it a rec center; we want it multi-generational. It’s going to have different levels of opportunity for all generations in this community.”

Before opening the rec center to the public, Benishek said there was “a ton of work that took place last week,” such as transitioning staff members’ offices and deep cleaning. ”A lot of work went into getting the doors back open, especially with a new agency coming in,” he said. “We just greatly appreciated everyone’s patience.”

Upcoming events include an open house Oct. 1 from 1-3 p.m. where the parks district is offering tours and answering questions. Refreshments will be provided. Also, there will be a pumpkin carving Oct. 16. All carved pumpkins will be displayed at the Haunted Hayride event. Cookies and cider will be provided.

For details about the BI Recreation Center, visit birec.org or call 206-842-2303.

Tennis is played during Welcome Week at the new BI Recreation Center. Tyler Shuey/Bainbridge Island Review photos
The front desk area of the BI Rec Center.
The new sign at the front of the facility.

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