With just a few days on the job, Bryce Merrill, Orem’s new recreation director, is excited for the future and grateful for the legacy that is already established.
Merrill has been in the recreation business for more than 20 years, for the past eight of those years he managed the award-winning Provo Rec Center. Those years have prepared him to lead out in Orem.
One of the first things Merrill recognizes about Orem is the strong and well-seasoned team he is working with, as well as partners like the Alpine School District.
“There are so many strong partners. We’ve had great discussions on ways we can connect with neighborhoods and streamline activities in an environment that is made to be fast,” Merrill said.
He believes there are things that can happen to raise the level of services for the community.
“The problems are exciting problems,” Merrill said.
For instance, the new fitness center has only been open about six weeks. The number of people coming to the center is about what was hoped for, and there are many more people than expected, Merrill noted.
The center is seeing about 2,000 member swipes a day, according to Merrill. And above that number, there are those involved in leagues and programs as well as those without memberships coming to see and use the facility.
“We want make the fitness center feel open and available, and that takes a lot of work,” Merrill said.
In the 20 years Merrill has been in the recreation business, he said there has been a lot of changes on how people recreate.
“It’s revolutionary and we need to catch up on technology. You have to adapt and move quick,” Merrill said. “The new fitness center has great features and infrastructure and operations (staff) that lets us be in the 21st century. It provides a level of service that can take us into the future long-term.”
Merrill said he doesn’t have a problem with comparing the Provo Rec Center to the Orem Fitness Center.
“Orem’s is a big and robust fitness center,” Merrill said. “Both (centers) were designed for big, vibrant cities.”
Merrill is not just over the new Fitness Center, but also the Senior Friendship Center. “We want to build the Friendship Center with multi-generational events; add new layers.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how the center looks at things. Gena Bertlesen, Friendship Center director, and her team have done amazing things, Merrill noted. Because of COVID, it is going to continue to take creativity to stay relevant, particularly for the homebound.
The Friendship Center is back to in-person activities, but Merrill said there are many things learned over the past year that can connect homebound seniors with their friends.
While he’s profoundly grateful he has such a strong staff, Merrill says he is “still drinking from the fire hose,” but remains ready to do the tough stuff because even that can be fun.