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Belle Terre Swim Club 161 Members Short of Goal as Drop-Dead Decision Time Nears

| January 6, 2016

belle terre swim and racquet club

The club needs 400 members to meet a benchmark set by the school board, if it’s to remain open–and the club’s pool has had algae issues, according to the health department. (© FlaglerLive)

With less than a month to go before a deadline when its fate will be decided, the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club is approaching the number of members it must enroll to stay alive. But it’s not there yet. Progress has been slow, and existing members have complained about facility maintenance, while the health department has alerted the club of algae issues in its pool. The issues are being addressed, officials said.

The club is owned and run by the Flagler County School Board. But it’s been losing money. Last year the board said repeatedly it would close the club if it couldn’t find another organization to run the club, or if the board’s own adult education division, which runs the facility, couldn’t halt losses. Membership-led efforts to keep the facility open were successful as a group called the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club Advisory Committee convinced the board to let it help drive up membership. But the board said it would keep the facility open only if 400 members were recruited by the first week of February.

Tuesday evening, the board got an update. As of Dec. 31, some 239 members have been recruited, up from about 130 last October. That’s still short 161.

Last year’s losses at the club totaled $141,000. Patty Wormeck, the district’s finance director, said that based on current membership number, the reduced hours and the staff cuts, the loss over the year would add up to $54,000. But that’s assuming there would be no additional memberships.

“If we got the 161 members at this point in the next month or two and beefed up our daily and monthly fees just a bit,” Wormeck said, “we’re estimating that we’d get a loss of $17,000 at the end of this fiscal year, which is a huge change.”

The figures don’t include the annual $25,000 grant Flagler County government has pledged to the club, as the board has taken no action yet on that pledge (though it has given no indication that it would turn it down, either). Kevin McCarthy, who heads adult education, said that every scenario regarding the future of the club is “significantly better than where we were a year ago.”

“The spirit of this update today is so that the board knows, the community knows, the members, everybody is informed of where we are in the process,” Superintendent Jacob Oliva said, “because our next board meeting in February, we’re going to be asking the board to make a decision on the future of the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club. And the more information and data and information we can share now, I think for the sake of transparency, will help for those decisions that have to be made.”

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Community members addressing the board were concerned about maintenance issues at the club, including the sauna. The health department’s latest inspection also pointed out that the pool had an algae issue. “You can’t really go out and sell membership if you have an algae issue,” Board Chairman Colleen Conklin said.

The club ordered a new pool vacuum to address that. “According to the department of health, if I understood the report correctly, it’s a cosmetic issue,” McCarthy said. “There was no recommendation to do anything in their inspection report.” The sauna should be fixed by the end of the week.

Oliva, who’s been eager to keep the facility open, spoke of its prospects in encouraging terms. “We’ve definitely seen the benefit from a shift in philosophy on how we had run the swim and racquet club in the past even though we had to reduce services and hours and cut staff,” he said. “We put some ownership on the members to start that grassroots campaign, and we’ve seen a little bit of a positive sign and some feedback, and hopefully as the word gets out, that it’s a great place to start your New Year’s resolution if you haven’t started already and want to find a place to go and enjoy and be part of a healthy lifestyle. We’ll see some more members in January so that when we report back in February, we’ll be more in line with the goals that were set by the board.”

He noted that for anyone looking to give the club a try, free one-day passes are available. “After they do that for a day they’ll be hooked and they’ll want to be a member full-time.”

25 Responses for “Belle Terre Swim Club 161 Members Short of Goal as Drop-Dead Decision Time Nears”

  1. I became a member again in December. Advertising on Facebook has picked up but I don’t see anything else going on. What about signs on Belle Terre showing directions to it and the new MONTHLY fees. The lower monthly fees is what brought me back instead of quarterly. And, the location is perfect for those living off of Belle Terre area.

  2. lenamarshall says:

    Get dreaming folks ! The place is NOT worth the money they are asking for a membership.

  3. I was at the pool this morning and they had the new pool vacuum in the pool testing it. Also,the pool water temperature was nice and warm. I bought a yearly membership in September.

  4. Got A guy says:

    Don’t worry the county will just donate another 25K to keep it a float. I wonder if another private gym that charges membership fees are in money trouble the county would bail them out too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Thanks so much for keeping this issue on the front burner! But let’s bear in mind why the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club must remain open. There are too many kids and too many families who don’t have swimming pools and safe places to swim. There are lots of people who simply can’t afford any of the alternatives. What a sad community we would be if those of means swim in their own backyard pools while the children of poor families are left to run through lawn sprinklers–only if they can afford their water bills!

    Join the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club, even if you are not going to use it, as an act of charity. Buy a membership for a poor family. Make a donation to the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club that can be aggregated to help a poor family join!

  6. Fredrick says:

    So Anon are you saying keeping the club open is just another form of welfare??

  7. confidential says:

    If the county will approve and pass a contribution of $25,000/year for the swim club, as a Palmcoaster I would suggest to my city officials to at least match that contribution as probably most of the those users of the club are city residents and also our Synchro Bells use it on their winter training. Maybe those swimming Belles could present a fund raising show along with a bake sale charging some affordable admission donation to collect funds to keep the club open. Fund raising events should be organized thru out the year in order to help funding the club. Probably plenty of volunteers will help organizing and running the events. After all is not an astronomical sum needed to reach that goal. As from my side I would be glad to donate any announcements, programs or flyers needed for the events, until the finances get of the ground. Bet if contacted our business community will help as well.

  8. confidential says:

    After doing some research and calling some of the habitual and former users of the Belle Terre Swim and Racket Club, as I suspected was told that the school maintenance and repairs is very deficient and probably overpaid as well. No wonder the budget shortfall. If the school board does not believe it just read the FB post next: Red tape and lack of supervision is what makes for the astronomical cost that threatens to close the facility to our community making the membership fees too high. Overpaid deficient services and repairs by the school district need to be addressed asap by the school board and no matter what administrators “tell them”. School Board Members need to get of their comfortable
    recliners and take inspection periodical walks in the facility and hear the complaints and evaluate if the costly services paid are delivered, are 3 bids asked for contractors to serve the facility…? Are lifeguards properly trained to be monitoring the pool activities than otherwise?

  9. Got A guy says:

    We are the closest exit off I-95 from Florida to Maine to the ocean its free swim there.

  10. Woody says:

    Hey anonymous,is the PalmCoast Tennis complex and Golf courses already an act of charity paid by the tax payers?

  11. I have taught Tai Chi at BTSRC for a number of years. I really like teaching here and I think that it works well for my students. My husband and I have both paid our $200 for memberships to support the cause. On the days that I don’t teach I use the gym. People are friendly and helpful. My Tai Chi classes will begin again on Feb. 2, 2016. If you are curious, but not sure if Tai Chi is for you you are welcome to visit my class. Beginners class meets from 9-10 on Tuesday and Thursday.

  12. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    The Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club is Federally ordered REDRESS pursuant F.T.C. C-2854.

  13. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    When a ‘Title Search ‘ is done – Big Surprise !

  14. Squeeky says:

    I wouldn’t go to that club if you paid me to, my dearest friend was going there and got seriously hurt on one of there treadmill machines, she had to have a total hip and upper part of her leg replaced because she came off of the treadmill and it didn’t stop, had no emergency kill, not one staff person was paying attention so she laid there with her whole side being destroyed by the machine, needless to say they were sued and the stupid school board prolonged it and refused to pay, well in the long run they paid but still has done nothing about this club, so as far as I am concerned they deserve to be shut down.

  15. Glenn Partelow says:

    It is the only pool in town with heat during Nov through April. The algae problem will be fixed shortly. Membership is increasing.
    Remember the City runs Frieda Zamba pool and has decided to not open it on weekend to anyone until Memorial Day and then begin closing it after Labor Day and has very resticted hours. A very miopic view with a city population over 60,000. We need a place to swim year round and Belle Terre is the only place in cooler months.
    The city needs to step in and think of its citizens.

  16. confidential says:

    As per what Pioneers recalls above I doubt that the school board and/or government can shut down the use or access of the BT Swim and Racket Club to the community. ITT Development Corporation “the developer of Palm Coast” provided that club amenity to the prospective buyers of land and homes in Palm Coast and I bet if those citizens will take their case to Federal Court as their rights per “Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club is Federally ordered REDRESS pursuant F.T.C. C-2854”., then the School Board could not shut it down. What the school board needs to do first is to seriously evaluate the real cost of properly maintaining that facility that is overpaying for less than deficient services now. Let a committee of volunteers preferably retired CPA’s and contractors to oversight cost and services and also maybe volunteer to run the place during their open hours schedules. Get that volunteer committee organize fundraising events and solicit the support of the business community and I bet they will have that facility continued operation from now on. I would hold ITT feet to the fire regarding “Federally ordered REDRESS pursuant F.T.C. C-2854” How come when they left Palm Coast took away all their promised amenities granfatherin for over 20 years that ITT used to attract Palm Coast home buyers? I still believe we have a case here, we just need a pro bonus lawyer to represent the community in federal court.

  17. PCer says:

    Should have let the soccer school have it. It would have brought in younger families.

  18. 1972nojo says:

    I use to love to swim at the pool. It became very frustrating when the Sync Girls tookup way more lanes then needed. ITs Annoying when one SYnc team is in the water, the other kids for what I would guess is a diff age group jumping into the other lanes to warm up. Also a sore point was when swim classes took over lanes. I’m sorry I do not think that is fair at all. If that was the only issue we would still be members. The teen life guards are a joke. Sick and tired of watching people jump in the pool from the sauna or from gym with out showing. Was told by the Life guards that it really isn’t a big deal. Well I’m sorry I disagree. Now the hours don’t allow people who work jobs to enjoy the pool. Guess we are forced to try the other pool in town. Maybe I am just a grumpy old man, but I want to swim in peace.

  19. Percy's mother says:

    I agree with you about the lap lanes. What you mentioned is the primary reason I gave up on BTSRC. Lap swimmers were never given any regard. The lanes always seemed to be taken up by seniors who weren’t swimming in the lap lanes but floating, holding talk sessions in groups in the lap lanes, etc. There were even a couple who on opening in the morning would make a mad dash to get in a lap lane only to stand there and bob up and down for an hour. That left the working people who had to be at work early (8 or 9 a.m.) very frustrated to say the least. Any suggestions to remedy the matter always fell on deaf ears. I guess if you aren’t a lap swimmer you don’t get it. There were a couple of occasions when I was swimming in a lap lane (head down in the water) when someone would jump in front of me and almost on top of me just to meander around in the lap lane I was in thereby impeding what I was there to do. I suggested moving the lap lanes over to the OTHER side of the pool such that for those who want to bob up and down for an hour or two or just have social hour or float then they could stay in the UN-lapped portion of the pool (now the side of the pool closest to the locker area/bathroom/sauna). I figured then the bobbers and floaters wouldn’t be so inclined to have to have a lap lane to do that. Again, deaf ears. Then there were the occasions of being in the middle of swimming in a lap lane and being asked to move because the water aerobics classes needed the space. Again, no regard for lap swimmers. I finally gave up on the place . . . it wasn’t worth the frustration of just trying to swim 40 minutes of laps without having to worry about who I was going to run into while I was swimming in a lap lane. Too bad . . . but I’m not surprised. In the end, its a geriatic facility which caters to the seniors, always has, always will. I’m not interested in spending my money to be frustrated about something that will never change.

  20. groot says:

    Good luck with it.

  21. Kendall says:

    Percy’s Mother,

    Your description of trying to swim laps amongst the seniors reminds me of my efforts to get my grocery shopping done at Publix. They like to stand in the middle of aisles and cut people off there too.

  22. Kay Z says:

    Wow. Why are Palm Coasters so mean and angry? Helping poor kids get recreation is welfare? Seeing seniors get water exercise makes it a “geriatric facility”? I don’t get the selfishness. Very sad.

  23. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    @confidential – Perhaps google Federal Trade Commission ‘ Consent Agreement ‘ Docket C-294 and the Federally Ordered ‘ 15 Yr. Compliance Report ‘ with exhibits A and exhibits B. The Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club are within the Exhibits.

  24. PalmCoastPioneers says:

    @confidential – correction – that is Federal Trade Commissions’ ‘ Consent Agreement ‘ Docket C-2854. Thank you.

  25. Diane says:

    Enough already ! Close that sad site down !

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