Submitted by Devin B Putney –
I’m writing to follow up on the last City Council meeting.
I spent more than a year on the Seward Recreation Committee because of how important youth activities and community wellness are to Seward. The Recreation committee has disbanded, but City Council definitely still has an opportunity to look at the facts and determine whether or not our citizens should have access to the AVTEC gym.
Hearing that city management has declined AVTEC’s reasonable counter-offer and listening to the discussion of the government’s role in relation to private business, it would appear that this decision was based on more than a concern for cost to the City. One idea brought forward was that one of the gyms in town could strike a deal with AVTEC to run the facility. This is very intriguing, however if the cost for them to run the facility results in higher user fees then it will not be available to the number of people in town who have always depended on it during the winter months. If the cost for the private gym to run it comes in lower, and they are able to charge a lesser rate similar to what the city charged, then in reality they are being subsidized by the state and it would be unfair competition for the other private gyms in town.
Another interesting fact that has not been mentioned is that the additional rate increase from AVTEC actually included access to their new weight room facilities. One possible solution that I could see would be as follows: Were the city to renew/continue use, they could offer two types of membership. Let’s say an annual $150 Silver membership that would grant everyone access to the basketball court, racquetball court, sauna, showers, and the four cardio machines in the foyer. An annual $300 Gold membership, could give the same access as Silver, in addition to the weight room facility (punch cards for both as well). The city would then have access again for the sports leagues and for their TYC programs on weather days. The other big part of this, that will eliminate the competition aspect with small business, would be allowing the private gyms to buy a membership for a minimal fee giving their patrons access to the same facilities as a Silver member. This would be a great added bonus for their current and future members and really give access of AVTEC’s great facility to everyone in the community!
The City has played a big part in our community’s health and wellness over the past 30 years through their partnership with AVTEC. During the last council meeting we saw no clear answers or solutions. The City Council’s involvement is critical to bringing together the private and public interests in a way that best serve the citizens of Seward. Anyone who would like their voice heard, can contact their council members or speak during this Monday’s council meeting. The public can comment at the start of the meeting, which begins at 7pm, as well at the end. Special consideration should be given to determining what is best for children and families of our community, before this coming winter.