The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Boston just celebrated its grand opening last week in Boston, but it is already drawing criticism regarding its membership fees.
According to several Boston-area media sources, some community leaders have said that memberships at the city’s Kroc are too expensive for many of the low-income residents that the center aims to serve.
The price of Kroc memberships varies according to income, but sample basic monthly membership rates for the Boston center are $55 for adults, $70 for a family of four and $15 per month for members 12 to 17 years old. Discounts and financial aid are available to help individuals and families who cannot afford the fees.
According to the center’s website, 58,000 people—including 19,000 children—live in a one-mile radius of the center, and two-thirds of the area’s residents have incomes below the state’s self-sufficiency standard.
John Barros, executive director of the local nonprofit neighborhood development group The Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, told The Dorchester Reporter that his group supports the Boston Kroc but that he is concerned it will be inaccessible to a lot of neighbors because the membership fees are too high and the financial aid process is ambiguous.
Major William Bode, divisional commander of the Salvation Army in Massachusetts, said that research by the organization and outside consultants had concluded that the membership fees and financial aid packages were reasonable. He added that staff is available to help fill out financial aid forms and that 30 percent of the new Kroc center’s members had received financial aid so far.
“We have to remain fiscally solvent at the Kroc Center, so we have budget provisions,” Bode told The Boston Globe. “As I sit here today, no one has been turned away.”
The $115 million Boston Kroc Center is the largest community center in New England. Its fitness facilities include a cardio loft and group fitness classroom, a gymnasium with two basketball courts and a ropes course, and an aquatic center with zero-entry recreation pool, water play features and lap lanes.