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County Cuts Carver Gym Budget 25%, Eyeing Future Reductions–and More Talk

| August 9, 2010

First cut. (© FlaglerLive)

In a special meeting, and returning from a morning of debates on the issue, The Flagler County Commission voted 3-2 late Monday afternoon to cut its funding for Carver Gym from $117,000 this year to $90,000 next year. The vote included a recommendation to reduce funding to $60,000 the following year, and to $30,000 by 2013, essentially reducing to a nominal amount the county’s involvement in keeping open the gym it has owned for the past five years and leased from the school board since 1980.

Commissioner Alan Peterson, Milissa Holland and Barbara Revels approved the plan, leaving the door open to further amendments. Revels volunteered to be–and was named–the commission’s delegate to meet with Bunnell city officials, the school board and community groups interested in keeping the gym open, and looking for constructive solutions.

“That’s not what was told us when we left this afternoon, and to go back and vote on it after we left—that’s not going to fly. That’s a bad way of doing business. It really is,” Chris Borgmann, one of the leading activists looking to keep the gym under the county’s authority (without a cut in funding), said Monday evening. He’d led the commission’s morning meeting after discussions had left him under the impression that there was no majority to cut funding this year. “For $90,000, where are they going to cut $30,000? Are they going to cut out all the phones? Are they going to cut out the Internet?” Borgamnn said. “They just opened up another can of worms. We’ll keep fighting.”

County Administrator Craig Coffey said Bunnell could agree to mow the grass, pick up the gym’s Internet costs, defray the costs of water and sewer, and have the community pick up some of the costs. “there’s some savings around the fringe. I don’t know if it’s $30,000,” Coffey said. “You’re looking in the area of between $5,000 and $15,000 on that, if I tried to guess, short of someone saying ‘I’ll throw in a little cash.'”

Listen to the Discussion and the 3-2 Vote on Carver Gym[media id=78 width=250 height=100]

Bunnell is interested in taking ownership of the gym, possibly to house its police department there as well as run programs in the gym. But after a morning of discussions that included talks with Bunnell City Manager Armando Martinez, Revels said she was not comfortable with turning over the gym to Bunnell without verifiable assurances that the city would preserve the gym as a destination for children in the South Bunnell neighborhoods–the county’s most ragged, and racially segregated, neighborhoods, in a city that has done little to pay attention to those neighborhoods. Bunnell successfully resisted using federally owned land around Carver Gym, for example, to build more housing for the neighborhood’s poor.

“I don’t want to see the gym close no matter what. I don’t want that to be the message to the community,” Revels said in the discussion leading up to the vote.

Holland agreed to the extent that, with so much movement to keep the gym open, she wants to see more actual movement to do something with it–and for those interested in keeping it open to match their words with action, and money. “I want to put the scare tactic in it,” Holland said. “I understand that there needs to be some programming out there. But I also don’t believe that the county should be continuing in the path” it’s been in.

Hanns’ who favored keeping the gym open at current funding levels, said the commission’s decision to keep whittling funds may change “when we hear from Bunnell and the school board.” But the school board has already made clear that while it would house some adult education programming there, it was not ready to pitch in money. And Bunnell, even when it spoke of taking ownership of the gym, wanted the county to keep paying a share of the gym’s costs.

Revels’ volunteering to be the commission’s representative on the issue in coming weeks and months is in contrast to Bunnell City Commissioner Jenny Crain-Brady’s similar decision, with some differences. Revels volunteered and got the commission’s blessing, her stated intention being to speak with all concerned. Crain-Brady took unilateral action, without the city commission’s formal agreement, and called a semi-secret meeting where representatives from the school board, the county commission, the county housing authority and the Boys & Girls Club only were invited. The meeting sent the wrong message to the South Bunnell community, which felt excluded by the same city government it suspects most of exclusion. Soon after that meeting, the Boys & Girls Club decided to leave Carver Gym, where it had had a program for 11 years. Revels’ approach to community outreach had more inclusive overtones.

[Note: this is a developing story. More soon. For a run-down on the commission’s earlier discussion on Carver Gym, this morning, click here.]

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7 Responses for “County Cuts Carver Gym Budget 25%, Eyeing Future Reductions–and More Talk”

  1. lou says:

    Cut further

    Let the people who want to use the gym pay!!!!!!

  2. Cathy says:

    Why don’t the jail inmates cut the grass? Can the county or the city apply for grants for programming and when there is more definate money coing into the gym then make further cuts.
    Will time warner or ATT donate internet to the community center if it is designated as a non-profit?
    I think there are so many more ways this issue can be resloved.

  3. Bob K says:

    I’m kind of curious as to why it costs $10,000 a month to operate the gym. I agree it should stay open for the kids, but I would like to see an accounting as to where the funds are going, as it seems maintenancehas not been kept up with. Where can we get an accounting of the expenditures?

  4. kmedley says:

    I applaud the decision by the BOCC. It’s a weaning process so that those who truly wish to keep the gym open have time to gather the additional funds. Why can’t the youth help with things like cutting the grass, painting or other small maintenance jobs? Can’t the parents contribute or help with fundraisers?

  5. Truth Traveler says:

    With so many unemployed citizens locally, I would like to think some could volunteer their time to come up with supervised activities for the children to do other than just shooting hoops. Homework assistance volunteers would be wonderful to add to the fun activities I’m sure the area could come up with.

  6. Scholar Me Bad says:

    Hey all
    Here is a noval idea, why not put this to vote by the people who own property in Flagler county and whom pay all of their taxes for Schools, Recreational complexes, Hospitals, Fire depts, Sheriff deputies, Police officers and all of the other County and City Employee’s including but not limited the local Governing body (Mayor and Commissioner’s who know in their hearts that putting money into this money pit is definitely not a smart way to waste tax payer’s hard earned tax dollars?
    Sorry rent paying people you can’t have voice if you are not a true property owner and True Tax payer.
    I find offensive that the people who want this gym to stay open are really none cotributors to the County and the City budgets.
    Now that my friends is some funny $h!?.

  7. Just Being Real says:

    I’m a tax paying citizen of Flagler County and I have no problem with the county funding the Gym. Guess I am the only true American that still believes in helping those who are less fortunate than others.

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