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Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club Lives: School Board Grants Reprieve, 5-0

| February 2, 2016

belle terre swim and racquet club

The Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club’s outlook is sunnier. (© FlaglerLive)

The Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club, at the brink of closure just last September, will stay open for now as the Flagler County School Board Tuesday evening voted 5-0 to approve the club’s new business model for the foreseeable future.

This time, the board did not set a new ultimatum or a new benchmark the club must meet to stay open. Superintendent Jacob Oliva, who was favoring closure last summer, said he never imagined last year that the club would be where it now is as he gladly recommended keeping it open.

“We’re very blessed to have a very different relationship with the members than we’ve had historically,” Oliva said, crediting the turn-around to that membership.

“I truly applaud each and everyone of you, because you did it,” Colleen Conklin, chairman of the school board, told members of the club, who’d packed this evening’s board meeting once again to show the sort of grass-root campaign they’d built in a short time to ensure the survival of the facility. Conklin asked them all to stand just after the vote, and when they did, they got rousing applause, much of it their own.

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Several members had earlier addressed the board in one final bit of lobbying for the club, with one woman describing how good it’s been for her health, a veteran describing what fellowship he’s developed there with other veterans, and CarMichael McMillan, one of the leaders of the revival effort, asking the board to consider the club the way it would consider a failing child with potential. It was an odd comparison: the club is among the oldest structures in Palm Coast, but it was partly because of that connection to an older Palm Coast (and an older membership base) that it managed its turn-around. “At the rate that we’re adding members, even if it slowed down to one member a day, we’d have twice the members we had last year,” McMillan said.

Last year Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club ran a $141,000 deficit, money the district had to make up from its general revenue–and could not keep making up, as the facility may not chronically use general revenue dollars. It’s intended to be self-supportive. It once was. But as fitness clubs began sprouting around town, membership at Belle Terre declined.

A membership-based group emerged to stave off closure, established a non-profit charity and advertised its efforts to recruit new members. By the end of January, it had increased annual memberships to 303 (at $200 a year). That was still short of the goal of 400 the board had set. But that goal was also based on an overall deficit that had to be closed. Most of that deficit was closed thanks to an annual $25,000 grant from county government and a few other revenue sources.

As of now, the district is expecting a deficit of $7,800 this year, assuming no additional memberships or new revenue sources are secured.

“We have made major changes,” Patti Wormeck the district’s finance director, said, contrasting the new bottom line with last year’s. The club is expected to add more members.

“Make sure you guys get those 30 other members, please,” Trevor Tucker, the board member who’d been most critical of the club’s finances, said after the 5-0 vote.

“With the model that we have in place, I think that we have a sustainable model,” Oliva said, even as he stressed: “It’s not over, this is an ongoing target that we’re still going to have to hit.”

But this time, no deadlines loom over the club.

23 Responses for “Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club Lives: School Board Grants Reprieve, 5-0”

  1. Merrill Shapiro says:

    Carmichael Mcmillan, Doug Courtney, and the team they assembled are living proof of the words of Margaret Mead: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

    These are the kind of people we need as our community leaders! They teach us all to say “Let’s never take ‘No’ for an answer!” How fortunate we are to have the likes of Carmichael Mcmillan and Doug Courtney in our midst!

  2. confidential says:

    Congratulations to all those dedicated and hard working members and crusaders that worked so hard to increase the membership and keep the club open!! You all united and provde to be invincible!!

  3. Fredrick says:

    Aww… yes. What paying for “education” through our taxes has become. We pay to feed people’s kids, and now we continue to pay for a “club” that is used by a few. No wonder lunatics like Trump are so popular. Makes the masses Mad As Hell and we don’t want to take it anymore.

  4. Sherry says:

    OK. . . I don’t have children myself, but let’s look at this another way . . . so, as a society, we stop supporting healthy pass times for children, and adults. We limit access to good exercise and speed even more obesity and diseases like juvenile diabetes. We give kids fewer healthy places to spend their time and hang out with their friends. . . creating more opportunities for unhealthy choices. . . which may lead to criminal activity. Just where should young people gather?

    It takes a “village” to raise a healthy, caring community and civilization of the future. Those who fear and hate others and want nothing to do with evolving a species and culture. . . or building a peaceful, happy society. . . should really deeply reconsider their destructive perspective.

  5. CarMichal McMillan says:

    Congratulations Members….We Did It!!!!.

    We appreciate Flaglerlive for helping bring attention to the plight of the club through their coverage.

    We will continue to add members and grow the club to turn it into a money maker that contributes funds to Flagler Schools. Even though some may still not see the potential of the Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club, we do and we will keep moving forward in spite of the negative folks. Realize of course that they are getting fewer and fewer as we continue to succeed.

    Join us at:

  6. confidential says:

    Frederick: the largest source of revenue from taxes that sustain our nation are income + payroll tax over 80% when corporate contributes only 11% :

    Now you seem content that our social welfare for the very taxpayers that fund the 80% of revenue only received 59 billion when the corporate 11% contributors get 92 billions? Where is the justice here?
    While your distorted facts keep poisoning the minds of the less informed is when we will never get of the financial hole our nation dug itself. Is proven that are not the corporations tax revenue neither the corporate welfare that sustains America and is improving its finances or creates jobs. Look at us now. We pay plenty taxes that should be serving us all but great portion just satisfies greed other than social programs for the unemployed and the homeless to get them back into jobs and generate income and payroll taxes that will benefit you and me as well. Should be used in preventive medical coverage for all that will avoid a young man loosing his leg for going to late for treatment due to lack of affording medical insurance. Now cost us millions his lengthy life saving and amputation treatment and his handicap status for the rest of his life. Besides were is our compassion for our fellow Americans specially our veterans?

  7. Al says:

    I would like to thank the School Board and all of the members for making this happen. A very special thank you to Mike Billy in the Maintenance Department for all of your hard work. Your expertise of wood crafting and landscaping is incredible. We have watched you day after day do an excellent job of making the site look beautiful. Wish you were there full time to keep the site looking amazing and everything running smoothly.

  8. concerned says:

    Congrats to all the people involved in making this possible. I can’t believe Ms Conklin made mention of Dean. He has been in charge for years and the blame for what has been going on at the pool fall on him. His answer has always been we can’t. He should go and the group that succeeded in making this happen should work with the board to keep the pool open

  9. PC Outlaw says:

    Pretty sad that people who do not own the pool made more effort than those that do.

  10. Oldseadog says:

    I think this is a big plus for our community. It was great sadness today, walking past one of our landmarks to see what happens when people no longer care–the once great tennis courts, pool and property next to the toll bridge entrance to Palm Coast is a major disgrace. (I was delighted to see that blighted property has a sign now indicating that somebody finally has bought it and hopefully now this fantastic location will be no longer be such an eyesore!)
    Congratulations to all involved in this wonderful vote to continue this old community asset. I am reminded of
    this quote that those who nothing good to say to contributing to society should perhaps consider reading closely:

    “It is not more bigness that should be our goal. We must attempt, rather, to bring people back to…the warmth of community, to the worth of individual effort and responsibility…and of individuals working together as a community, to better their lives and their children’s future.”

    ~ Robert F. Kennedy

  11. Marc says:

    I am curious why a School Board would be running a public pool? How many school children use it each day? Also there is mention of maintenance costs. Over $300,000. Do the members pay that maintenance or is that diverted from the schools?

  12. Woody says:

    A deficit of $7,800,that’s not bad.Look at the money we sank into the BLACK HOLE tennis complex and golf courses.Powers at large wanted to close the club fairly quickly not to keep from wasteing money yet the tennis complex and golf course stay open.Hmmm makes you think

  13. Trumpster says:

    Well, let’s see. We have a golf course that’s needs an annual bailout, we have a tennis club that constantly needs bailing out, now we start another annual bailout with the swim club. The majority of the people in Palm Coast are Tea Baggers, wanting smaller government and lower taxes. Guess that only applies to other people not themselves. I’m getting a little tired of all these special interest groups who won’t allow bottle clubs or topless bars. I guess the Right Wing Religious are and the Tea Baggers are one in the same.

  14. fredrick says:

    Sherry – why are you blaming “society” for all those ills? Can’t people take responsibility for themselves? Can’t parents take responsibility for raising their kids. Yes people may need a helping hand. But providing them with a pool and tennis club?? How is helping those in need. Maybe you need to “reconsider your destructive perspective” and help people who need real help. Hint…they don’t need a pool or tennis club.

    Confidential – I love it when liberals have to runaway from something specific and start blaming big corporations or how unfair the system is. Let’s keep on topic here and discuss taxes that are being paid for children’s education that is going to prop up a pool and tennis club. Wouldn’t you rather have those funds go to giving our poor teachers a raise or paying for needed supplies? But no you want to have the funds used for something else.

    You are correct that how the current administration has treated our Veterans is a disgrace. But again… that is off topic.

  15. just me says:

    IMO this facility is worth saving. It should be open to ALL county residents. It should be a joint venture from the schools that use it for swim teams the City of PC for its residents and the county for the same. IMO I see it like our parks , trails water ways and ocean. We all don’t use them BUT they add to our general quality of life within this little county.

  16. Fredrick says:

    Just me – why should it be funded from the education budget? Privatize it. If it can’t make money, then close it. If the school needs it for swim team practice then they should pay the owner of the facility just like anyone else who chooses to use it. If you want it to be open to everyone like a park then let the city and county pay for it. But why out of the education budget? Makes no sense whatsoever. It’s dishonest.

  17. confidential says:

    Dear Frederick:
    The pool and tennis club was a membership based amenity offered from the start by ITT to promote the sale of lots and homes while developing Palm Coast to the buyers. When ITT left us around 1996 they gave the school board that facility as was too obviously negative for them to sell it as served many of the families and elderly in that section of Palm Coast. Then our financial debacle came in 2005 and 2008 and hit us all in our pockets many of those club members lost their homes and the local high unemployment made them move away to other states or cities to find jobs and some of the many elderly departed and with they went the membership…The members left were not enough to sustain the maintenance and management cost ,maybe this clarify why the school owns this facility. Is always better to have this type of community club membership sustained if possible and also with tax revenue help simply because promotes a healthy activity to all specially including children and elderly and also promotes the saving of water by the pool users that then do not need to build a pool in their home in super hot Florida summers. A community health and sports minded is less costly to us all in the end and also keeps our youth off the streets conducive to crime. And yes is for the one’s that lack the wealth but are still our fellow Americans that deserve more than the 59 billion in social programs when corporate welfare is given by congress and senate 92 billions of our 80% contribution to the general revenue of our nation. C’mon look at numerical statistics and lets stop distorting the pathetic reality and see the unfair distribution of the taxes we pay and other than bickering among ourselves lets direct the bickering to the one’s running for office and the one’s already seating there! Are not the wealthy that sustain America but you and I middle class and while we keep further undermining our poor other than provide them the first step in the ladder to recovery, America will never fully recover as well.

  18. Sherry says:

    Thanks confidential. . . very, very well said!

  19. confidential says:

    Frederick, I am not a liberal, conservative, moderate or progressive. I am just a middle class taxpayer that is taken for a ride like you, but I believe that lashing and blaming at the ones below us in favor of the one’s above us, is only indirectly sinking and preventing our financial success. If the unemployed and homeless do not find jobs, do not generated income and payroll tax that benefit us all and cost us in that pathetic welfare that maybe they can hardly get . When they fall sick cost us fortunes taken care in our hospitals because they are not cover by preventive health care. If the millions unemployed or homeless don’t find jobs they do not rent or buy housing and don’t spend money buying basic needs in stores and that is why the housing market and businesses are going nowhere but upside down…this is the reality around us, isn’t?

  20. Looking for something to do says:

    Why isn’t there a YMCA in Palm Coast? Why doesn’t the city have more to offer other than parks, sidewalks and trails?

  21. confidential says:

    Maybe these games at the Belle Terre Racket and Swimming Club should be better advertised as I missed to attend?:

  22. confidential says:

    Should be Raquet, sorry.

  23. confidential says:

    @ Looking for something to do…there is plenty; Just visit our P.C. Parks and Recreation web site: Also if you have a good skill you can become an instructor:
    We have plenty of clubs to join already and YMCA membership will compete with them.
    Enjoy the many fun things we have to do in Palm Coast and Flagler County.

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