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Mayor opposes fitness room plan at aquatic center
Figueras: Removing meeting area changes concept
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Other business
At its meeting Thursday, the Gainesville City Council:

  • Held a special-called meeting to give final approval to the Gainesville Board of Education’s millage rate. The city does not levy the tax, but since it is responsible for sending out tax bills, the council must give final approval to the board’s chosen millage rate.
  • Heard a presentation from Gainesville’s Public Utilities Department on the history of Cedar Creek reservoir.
  • Discussed changes to the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinance that would exempt college, university, nonprofit charitable and civic organizations from the distance requirements for special events held near school buildings.

A proposal to fashion one of the meeting rooms at Gainesville’s nearly new Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center into a fitness room was met with opposition Thursday by the city’s mayor.

When Parks and Recreation Director Melvin Cooper presented a list to the City Council of changes the department wanted to make to its services, one included transforming the center’s large meeting rooms into a fitness center with weights and mirrors.

Cooper said that visitors to Frances Meadows have been asking for the amenity since the center opened in 2008, and the conversion would make the center available to more people.

But Figueras, who said the original purpose of the center was to bring recreation to the southside of Gainesville, dissented.

Figueras said just because the room wasn’t being used now, did not mean it should be converted into a fitness center.

She likened the idea to converting one of the meeting rooms in the Gainesville Civic Center to a fitness center, and said taking the meeting room out of Frances Meadows would make the part of the name "community center" obsolete.

"I cannot wrap my head around turning that community room into a fitness center," Figueras said.

Jerry Castleberry, who serves on the Parks and Recreation board of directors, told Figueras he understood her point of view. But he said the Fair Street Community Center provides the meeting room needs for Gainesville’s southside residents.

"Absent of the Fair Street center, I would probably be on the same page as Ms. Figueras," Castleberry said.

Other council members agreed with Castleberry, and decided to put the idea to a vote at the council’s meeting on Tuesday.

Figueras accepted the rest of the council members’ wishes to put the item on the meeting’s consent agenda, but said she had to share her feelings first.

"The concept is not what we started with," she said.

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