Furor over print cost of Recreation News begs question of high-tech alternative

The furor over the costs of the Recreation News has residents wondering why a high-tech alternative isn’t in the works.

The total cost for Recreation News for the coming year will be $702,000, according to Budget Director Barbara Kays. Areas south of County Road 466 will be assessed $435,000. Areas north of County Road 466 will be assessed $190,000. The remaining 10 percent of Recreation News costs will be paid by the Developer to cover recreation centers in the newest areas of The Villages.

Villagers pay for the Recreation News through amenity fees.

Recreation News is available in recreation centers across The Villages.

“There is absolutely no reason to spend all that money on Recreation News. Let each club confer with its members via all kinds of free media. Cut the funding for this unnecessary throw away section of our fine paper,” said Villager Bruce Baum.

Recreation News is inserted each Thursday in the Villages Daily Sun and made available for free at recreation centers throughout The Villages.

An online version of Recreation News can be found on the District’s website. But it isn’t easy

If you log onto districtgov.org, you must follow the top menu navigation bar to “Departments.” Then you use the drop-down menu to navigate to “Recreation.” Once on the Recreation page, the user must use the left-side menu and click on “Recreation News & Activity Schedules.” That will reveal three choices, the top choice being Recreation News. It will take you to a non-searchable pdf version of the Recreation News, housed on the Daily Sun’s website.

District Manager Janet Tutt last week defended the print version of Recreation News contending “residents like the hard copy.”

However, Community Development District 1 Supervisor Charlie Amante countered that the print version is the “default” option.

“I don’t think people even know there is an online option,” he said.

Recreation Director John Rohan has been tasked with reformatting Recreation News to bring down costs. However, the reformatting has squeezed club leaders who have been further limited in word count and frequency. Tutt admitted last week the Recreation Department has been catching “holy heck” from unhappy club leaders. 

Last week, Community Development District 1 Chairman Ellen Cora detailed a conversation she had with Phil Markward, head of the Villages Media Group. She said Markward described the scarcity and climbing price of newsprint.