Commission Considers Expanding Community Center Fitness Room

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Recreation

The fitness room at the Chatham Community Center. The park and recreation commission is considering expanding the facility into the adjacent conference room. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – The park and recreation commission is considering expanding the community center's fitness room into the adjacent conference room.

The idea is only in the concept stage right now, and the commission plans to survey fitness room users to determine interest in expanding the facility's offerings.

“People I've talked to are excited” about the possibility, commission chair Meredith Fry commented at last Tuesday's meeting, ironically held in the conference room.

The basic idea is to convert the conference room into a weight room and use the space freed up in the fitness room for additional cardio machines. The conference room should probably remain separate; knocking down the wall between the two rooms would interfere with some of the amenities in the fitness room, Tobin said.

The facility's fitness room is one of the community center's most popular features. There are about 400 memberships, Park Director Dan Tobin said; that includes both family and individual memberships, so the total number of people using the facility is higher. Family memberships cost $150 per year and can include dependents up to 22 years old; individual memberships are $100, monthly memberships $50 and daily memberships and guest passes at $10. Membership is open to Chatham residents, property owners and renters with a lease of six months or longer.

Last fiscal year fitness room memberships generated $43,995 in revenue.

There were two issues of concern expressed during last week's discussion: loss of the conference room and competing with private fitness clubs.

The conference room is one of two meeting rooms in the community center that contain video equipment that allows public meetings to be recorded for on-demand viewing through the town's website. The other is the club room on the second floor; the large meeting hall on the third floor does not have video capabilities. Other than a small room adjacent to the large meeting room, those are the only meeting rooms in the community center.

Tobin said a lot of meetings take place in the conference room, both by town committees and community organizations. It may be possible to move the recording equipment to another room in the facility, he added.

Owners of the town's two private health clubs (a third is in the planning stages) should be notified of the plan and brought into the discussion, Tobin said.

“Nationally that's sort of an issue between publicly funded fitness centers vs. private ones,” he said. “I want to be sensitive to that issue.”

While the fitness room is busier in the summer than in the off-season, “I don't know that there's really an overcrowding situation in there,” Tobin said. The fitness room policy limits capacity to no more than 20 people at one time.

To determine interest in expanding the facility, Tobin will develop a survey for current members. Member Kimberly Robbins suggested that the survey also be made available online.

Tobin said he hopes to have feedback to the commission by its next meeting in late August.