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Palm Coast Monday, May 24, 2021 3 months ago

Belle Terre swim club may need more kids' programming to survive

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School Board wants more financial data before a final decision, but the club continues to lose money, staff said.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

With a loss of about $150,000 projected for the year, Flagler Schools may need additional programing to make the Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club viable — or close it to nonstudents.

“It’s not sustainable,” said Marta Barber, BTSRC coordinator. She proposed four options: 1) Sell the property. 2) Lease it to another company that could try to make a profit. 3) Close the property to the community but keep using it for school purposes only. Or, 4) keep the facilities open, but increase the fee structure for the community.

Since local student swim teams use the pool to practice, selling the facility was the least desirable option for School Board members Colleen Conklin, Cheryl Massaro and Jill Woolbright. More financial data was requested before a final decision would be made.

David Freeman, plant services director, said that at minimum a 30-year portable needs to be removed. The parking lot also needs to be fixed, as does a tennis court. He said the options for leasing seemed unlikely.

After a lengthy discussion, Massaro asked Barber for her views on the matter, considering she manages the facility.

Barber said that as of October 2019, the operations budget was profitable. “And then COVID hit,” she said. Water safety programs helped 138 kids in the community recently, and she suggested that more classes and programs could be added to achieve the goal of serving Flagler Schools students as well as the community.

“We’re dragging ourselves back, clawing our way through, and I think we could again get out of the red, but we have to be able to provide services for kids,” she said, adding that older people might use the club more than kids simply because “we don’t offer anything else for kids.”

Massaro was encouraged that BTSRC could eventually break even in the operations budget, but was still concerned about the capital improvements.

The School Board will discuss the issue once again — with more financial data — at the June meeting.

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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