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Board strikes deal to keep fitness center running

4/17/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Emily Chesnic

COVENTRY — Ongoing rescue efforts have yielded a plan to keep a health club afloat in one local school district.

During the past seven months, the Coventry Local Schools Board of Education exhausted numerous avenues to save the dying Portage Lakes Fitness Center, which is owned by the district and housed adjacent to the current Coventry High School, said board President Robert Wohlgamuth.

“The goal has been to keep the center open,” said board member David Andrews.

At the meeting April 15, the board signed an agreement — in front of a packed room of concerned citizens — that will keep the exercise facility going strong in the community for years, according to members of the board.

Wohlgamuth announced the district will lease the facility for the next five years to Rob Miller, who will operate a Snap Fitness facility inside the 15,000-square-foot Portage Lakes Fitness Center, currently managed by the Akron YMCA.

Wohlgamuth said the lease will allow the district to pay down the $45,000 in debt it has wrapped up in the fitness center.

Per the agreement, the district will allocate $50,000 for center renovations through permanent improvement dollars being provided to the district now through a combined 5.99-mill bond issue and permanent improvement levy, which was approved by voters last year, Wohlgamuth explained.

He said the facility improvements will include new paint, new carpet and improved restrooms.

Wohlgamuth added the center soon will shut down for a few weeks so the renovations can take place.

“This is a win-win situation for the community and members of the fitness center,” he said.

“Hopefully, you will throw your support behind Mr. Miller,” Superintendent Russell Chaboudy said to those in attendance at the regular meeting.

Chaboudy said the major improvements to take place should bring business back to the fitness center.

According to Miller, he will work with current fitness center members to make Snap Fitness a facility they will continue to be proud of and visit on a regular basis.

Snap Fitness is a nationwide gym and fitness center with cardio, strength and fitness plans at affordable prices, he said.

During the transition, Miller told current members they could visit the Snap Fitness location in the Acme Plaza at 3235 Manchester Road.

Miller fielded questions from current members in attendance at the meeting.

Many were concerned the pool inside the center will not remain open.

Miller said he is researching the expense involved with operating a pool and is seeking ways to fund it.

He also explained new equipment will be added to the facility and Snap Fitness will offer live fitness classes and additional classes via interactive videos.

Miller said the club will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even on holidays, and feature a state-of-the-art security system to allow members to quickly call 9-1-1 should an emergency situation arise.

He said he even is contemplating operating a small café inside the center.

At least for the time being, Miller said Snap Fitness in the Acme Plaza will remain open, as many utilize the location for personal training group sessions.

There is a possibility that current fitness instructors and employees of the Portage Lakes Fitness Center could keep their jobs through an interview process, he said.

“We still are working out all of the details,” Miller explained.

He anticipated officially opening Snap Fitness May 15.

Additionally during the meeting, the board approved a resolution to have the Summit County Board of Elections officially place an existing tax levy, approved for the first time in 2010, on the ballot for the Nov. 4 General Election.

Treasurer Aaron Butts said the 6.25-mill emergency levy generates about $2 million each year for five years. He has said the question on the ballot would ask voters to extend the emergency levy for the next 10 years to continue to help pay for the daily operations of the district, which include staffing, supplies, purchased services, transportation, athletics, music programs and the cafeteria.

During the meeting, the board also announced the second annual Taste of Coventry event will be held May 1 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Prime 93, 4315 Manchester Road. Board member Vicki Tavenier said those in attendance will have the opportunity to sample cuisine from 15 local restaurants and wine by Prime 93 and participate in a silent auction and raffle. Entertainment at the event will be provided by the high school’s DaFunk’d Band, she said. All proceeds from the Taste of Coventry event will go toward the purchase of playground equipment for the new elementary school under construction in the current high school.

For ticket information for the event, call 330-990-0291.

The next regular board meeting is set for May 20 at 6 p.m. in the district administrative offices at 2910 S. Main St.

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