MY WORD: Parks board tried to save gym

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By Clay T. Cottongim

For the record, the Shelbyville-Shelby County Parks Board did all they could to make the women's gym a reality and keep it up and going. It bothers me that people do not ever give at least a little credit when credit is due.

For those that do not know the whole story of Curves and the FAC Women's Gym, this is what really took place. I as parks director, in 2012, was approached by an individual and told that the owner of Curves was planning to close it in December. The individual asked if we would take it over and move the equipment to the FAC.

The individual would buy the equipment and donate it to the parks board. They could even get a tax deduction for their donation. I told the individual we would look into it, but there was no way we could fit the equipment into the FAC.

So we looked at all the other possibilities as to where we could relocate the equipment within the parks system but could not find a place unless we were to build onto the FAC or build another building. The staff and parks board did look into finding a cheaper place to rent and ask that the existing rent be lowered.

Believe it or not, your present parks facilities are booked to the max with other programs and activities for many other interest groups and activities of the community.

We even met with the owner of Curves Shelbyville and looked over her records that showed if we took it over, we should have made a $2,000 a month profit after rent and all other expenses. Well that has not happened. We also took it over with the understanding that as long as it broke even we would keep it open, but if not we would have to give it up after the three to four months of winter.

We have managed to keep it open through Aug. 31 even though the facility has been in the red since we took it over.

At a board meeting in spring or early summer, some ladies came asking us to try to keep it open. The parks board gave them their wish, and the ladies even tried to drum up more membership and donations, but it just has not been enough to make it break even.

The FAC is used to the max, and the parks board has and continues to explore the possibilities of ways to expand and meet the needs of the community. The parks board has done what they financially could to meet the needs of the women's gym members and even offered the women's gym to the existing FAC members as an added benefit.

But instead of praise to the parks board for trying to save the women's gym, the parks board gets criticized. The parks board and its staff have always tried to bring Shelby County the best in programs, activities and facilities as they could afford.

What other communities enjoy a Family Activity Center or an equestrian park like Shelby Trails in Todds Point or an open passive park like Red Orchard? They do all this by a budget that is raised by about 70 percent of fees and charges and the other 30 percent from grants, donations and what the city and county allot them.

I now feel we should have not even tried to save the women's gym from closing but should have just kept out of it and let it close back in December 2012. So who can't say the parks board didn't try?

If you would like to make a difference in your community, may I suggest a gift to the Shelby County Parks Foundation; a 501c organization that is there to help your parks continue to grow for your future generations, and you can specify where you want your donation to go. You can see me if you have questions on the foundation, or I can point you in the right direction. 

The individuals who donated the money for the women’s gym was offered it back but chose to give it to the foundation.

Thanks for your continued support of Shelby County Parks.


Clay T Cottongim, retired director of Shelby County Parks & Recreatioin and currently a parks consultant, lives in  Shelbyville.