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Supporters speak up for Fitness Center

By Staff | Apr 22, 2009

About 30 current members of the Sanibel Fitness Center – which will close its doors after Friday – came to Tuesday’s council session to show their support for business owner Meta Goodwin and a proposal for the city to issue Request for Proposals (RFP’s) for additional programs at the Recreation Center.

Two weeks ago, Goodwin sent out an e-mail announcing the closure of her business following 19 years of service to the local community. She cited “insurmountable economic hardships, rising overhead costs and increased competition outside of our control” as the primary reasons that the Fitness Center was closing.

Her e-mail also noted that her staff would be willing to work in conjunction with the Rec Center, which would allow for the continuation of some of their existing programs not offered at the city-operated facility.

“The services that (Sanibel Fitness Center) have provided to people undergoing rehabilitation have been immeasurable,” one member stated, while another offered, “Meta and her staff would make a wonderful addition to the Rec Center, if that can be worked out.”

Mayor Mick Denham told the crowd that, once accepted, RFP’s would be implemented by June 8. City Manager Judie Zimomra also explained that the city has an interest in purchasing some equipment from the Fitness Center; however, some of those machines are not fully owned by the business.

“It is my firm opinion, as a member for the past 10 years, that the Rec Center is in direct competition with the Sanibel Fitness Center,” said Karen Patty.

According to the proposed RFP, the city would seek bids for Fitness Program Services and Personal Trainer Services. Among the proposed Fitness Program Services are traditional land aerobics, core body strengthening, Pilates, Bosu balance, spin bike, weight management and Boot Camp classes. All of those classes have previously been available only at the Fitness Center.

David Smith, a Fitness Center member and leukemia survivor, praised Goodwin and her staff for helping him increase his fitness ability over the years.

“I’ll have nowhere to go now with the current situation,” Smith told the council. “I urge you to expand the programs offered at the Rec Center.”

Another Fitness Center supporter, Susan Rosenberg, urged the council to approve issuing the RFP’s.

“You have to do what is best for the people you are serving, and the best person to help you do that would be Meta,” she said, while Wendy Erler-Schnapp added, “Meta is just fantastic.”

Following the public comment portion of the meeting, Vice Mayor Kevin Ruane offered his support for the proposal.

“We embrace your comments,” he said. “I think that we have an opportunity here to address some of the comments that we’ve just heard.”

“In a kind of way, it was inevitable that we would be here today,” said fellow councilman Peter Pappas, who pointed out that the city’s decision to add a Recreation Center addressed “a public need” and has been “a public good.”

“I hope that we will move in a direction that will address all of your concerns,” he added.

The council voted unanimously to approve issuing RFP’s. The city’s Parks & Recreation Committee will offer their input on the matter today and the RFP requests are expected to be sent out to the public on or before May 8.

RFP’s should be brought back to City Council at their June 2 meeting.