Clinton Recreation Director Gregg Obren always has work to do.
Gregg started with the recreation department in 1980 and became responsible for the municipal pool in 1985. In 2002, the recreation department’s responsibilities were given to him.
Currently the department is working to get everything ready in the soccer and softball fields for the upcoming sports seasons. Gregg is scheduling 62 softball teams and a 12-team horseshow league. The recreation department is also involved with the area Ultimate Frisbee league and other summer sports.
Gregg spends his days dealing with any issues or problems at any of the facilities and with equipment that fall under the department’s purview. He and his staff are responsible for the maintenance of $12 million worth of assets. This includes the Ericksen Community Center, Riverview Swimming Pool, Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, skatepark, tennis courts, Eagle Point Lodge, the various soccer parks and softball parks and other properties. Gregg is currently working on an emergency generator addition to the Ericksen Center so the location can be used as an emergency shelter.
“The reason why I love my job is exactly the reason why I love my job. And that’s because it’s recreation. It’s serving the citizens. It’s doing something for people,” Gregg said.
Gregg and his department work with various organizations and programs in the community. The Gateway Impact Coalition, Clinton School District, Teen Club, Victory Center, Jaycees, River City Municipal Band, Clinton Humane Center, Soaring Eagle Nature Center and the dog park are just a few of the organization the recreation department collaborates with. Gregg also works with the River City Aquatics and the Lane Four Aquatics swim teams.
“Nothing happens in this town, convention and tourismwise, without the Parks and Recreation department being involved in it,” Gregg said.
Greg said he is working on a variety of programs and projects. He added his job keeps him busy, but he still finds time to be on the Clinton School Board, volunteer to coach multiple sports and spend time with his wife, Madonna, and their children: Nick, DJ and Marc.
Another major part of his job is the municipal pool. Gregg is just getting ready to start working to opening the pool for the summer. He is starting to the handle staffing and equipment needs for the pool. He said this work will not get into full swing until early to middle of May.
Gregg will begin getting staff together by May 7. Currently, he is working on cleaning the pool and ordering equipment. It will not be until the middle of May that they are ready to put water into the pool.
“Then everything goes from, basically five miles per hour to 90 miles per hour in the matter of a day,” Gregg said.
Gregg is also working on various upgrades due to changing Americans with Disabilities Act regulations and other safety concerns. Due to a recent ADA change, the pool will be required to put in a second means of entry and exit out of main pool. Gregg is getting bids for the installation of stairs and looking into the pool’s liner warranty so they do not void the warranty by making these changes.
“We’re a safe pool and the reason why we’re a safe pool is we take the requirements we need to comply with very, very seriously,” Gregg said.
The pool’s lifeguards go through a lot of training and recertification is handled by the Gateway Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. Before opening, the pool holds a drill when staff members pretend someone was significantly injured in water. The Clinton police and fire departments work with the recreation department for the drill.
In an economically favorable year, the pool would be open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. However, this year it will open the day after Memorial Day and stay open until Aug. 12. Gregg said cutting down the season will cut pool chemical costs by approximately $3,000 to $4,000. While Gregg is just starting to get into the major planning for the pool, he said a lot of work goes into the pool during the off season.
“Even though it technically is only operational to the public for 10, 11 weeks, it actually is more of a year-round program than you might think,” Gregg said. He added that he spends a lot of time working on the pool’s budget.
“When you’re talking about $75,000 to $100,000 a summer in staff wages, you better plan for that. That’s not something you can just say ‘Oh, I’ll take that out of petty cash.’ Cause that’s not going to happen,” Gregg said.