Surgoinsville cuts fitness center fees for non-residents, families

Jeff Bobo • Feb 10, 2010 at 12:00 AM

SURGOINSVILLE — In hopes of attracting more members to its new municipal fitness center, the Surgoinsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Monday to lower the membership rates for non-residents.

The fitness center, which opened Saturday, shares a building with the Surgoinsville Water Utility on Main Street across from City Hall.

Manager Danny Blair described it as a “soft opening” without much fanfare or advertising.

But in a small town like Surgoinsville word spreads fast, and by Monday there were already 20 members signed up.

Surgoinsville initially set monthly fees at $20 for in-town residents and $35 for non-residents.

Mayor Johnny Greer told the Times-News on Wednesday he’d been contacted by some non-residents who told him they wanted to use the fitness center but couldn’t afford it.

During Monday’s BMA meeting, the board agreed to lower the non-resident fee to $25 per month.

“Everything Surgoinsville has had, our ball programs, basketball — we’ve always had to rely on people from outside the city to make a league and make everything work,” Greer said. “And they buy their groceries here and trade here if they can, so I don’t know why we can’t treat them like good neighbors.”

The board also approved a recommendation from Alderman Joe McLain, who chairs the BMA’s Fitness Center Committee, to lower the monthly fee for families from $50 to $40.

Last year the BMA purchased used fitness equipment for $6,000, and then negotiated what Greer described as a “sweetheart deal” for space in the water utility building to locate the new gym.

Surgoinsville and the utility district each spent about $12,000 to renovate the space. The town has a five year lease for the space at $300 per month, but the rent will be applied to the town’s renovation cost. Surgoinsville won’t actually have to pay rent until that $300 per month equals what the town paid for the renovation.

“The water board has really been a good partner in this, and they’re really working hard to help us succeed,” Greer said.

During Monday’s SWU Board of Director meeting the board agreed to order water bottles labeled with the name of the district as a promotion to help the fitness center.

The utility district plans to give a water bottle to the first 100 members who sign up at the fitness center.

Greer said Wednesday he spoke to six people at church that evening who had signed up at the fitness center.

“We’re getting a few sign up every day, and we haven’t really gotten the word out yet,” he said.

In other business during Monday’s Surgoinsville BMA meeting the board:

•Discussed the possibility of appointing an alderman to become an unpaid parks director. Greer said that Alderman Bobby Jarnagin would be a good choice because he has an interest in parks and recreation, but the decision won’t be made until next month’s meeting.

“All we’re looking at from this position is, if something needs to be repaired or looks unsafe, he would see to it,” Greer said.

•Discussed the town’s desire to save the Longs Town Road Bridge over the Holston River after the new bridge construction project commences next year.

On Feb. 26, Surgoinsville leaders will meet with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Hawkins County Mayor Crockett Lee and Hawkins County Highway Superintendent Lowell Bean to discuss the possibility of the town taking over ownership of the bridge.

“They’re going to build a new bridge there and basically the problem is that it’s not going to have a sidewalk,” Greer said. “With two public parks right there next to the bridge, there should be a way to get across the river on foot or bicycle. We’re not saying for sure we’re trying to keep the old bridge, but we’re wanting to explore it and find out if it’s something we can do.

“We really want to. Most people really want to keep it.”

Greer said he could foresee the old bridge becoming an extension of the park with benches, picnic tables and other attractions.

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