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The Scoop 5-6
City health kick hurts local gyms
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I've heard a number of moans about the city's decision to spend $150,000 just to find out how much it will cost to renovate and expand McMinnville Civic Center.
It's sort of funny, in a non-amusing way, the city has to spend more than the GDP of Uganda just to learn construction costs, but I grasp the concept of architectural fees.
I'm excited about potential Civic Center upgrades because I'm a firm believer in the power of fitness. Better health leads to better overall happiness. If more people made an effort to exercise and take care of their bodies, our national healthcare costs would take a nosedive.
The Civic Center complex is this community's greatest asset, complete with Gilley Pool, Jungle Jym, walking trail, ball fields, and tennis courts. It's a great place to spend quality time.
However, I do have a gripe about proposed Civic Center expansion plans, specifically those plans to greatly expand the Wellness Center there. The way I understand it, the plan calls for the Wellness Center to balloon in size, offer childcare, and possibly become a 24-7 facility.
This may help overall community wellness, and I'm certainly a big fan of that, but in talking with some local gym owners it's not exactly fair to them. Some of these gym owners are city taxpayers who are seeing their own tax dollars used against them in direct competition.
The problem is it's not an even playing field. In order to keep their doors open, local gyms must turn a profit and their rates reflect a need to make money. But not the city. The Civic Center can offer lower rates because the city can lose money and still keep the doors open because taxpayers cover the difference.
It would be like the city opening a Subway and selling subs for $1 each. This sandwich shop could lose $750,000 a year and still stay open if taxpayers funded the difference, which is not fair to all the other Subways.
This economics lesson aside, here's my plea. There are at least five private gyms in Warren County where people can lift weights, ride stationary bikes, and take various fitness classes. Counting the Civic Center, that makes six, which is equal to our vast number of Mexican restaurants.
Instead of investing so much money in a move which will likely put some of these gyms out of business, the city should concentrate its energy on offering something this community does not have -- an indoor pool.
We have many top-notch gyms in this county, but we don't have an indoor pool, and we will never have an indoor pool, unless the city decides to build one. Any schmo can open a gym, but only the city has the ability to build an indoor pool.
For well over a decade, I've seen petitions and heard arguments about why the city should build an indoor pool. I've never seen a petition for a larger Civic Center weight room.
An indoor pool would be a great fitness asset to McMinnville and the city, and only the city, has the finances to make that type of splash.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.