President’s Message – March

Our plans for a March newsletter, like many other plans, were derailed by COVID-19. Below is the message I had typed up on March 10th prior to the pandemic fully setting in. I am posting this now for your information. Priorities have shifted in the weeks since I originally wrote this, but our concerns still remain and will re-emerge with time. I hope you all are staying well in this crisis. Please continue to look to our website and NextDoor for neighborhood updates while we keep our social distance.

Stay well,
Scott Guirlinger


Spring has not officially started yet but it might as well have with the warm weather we’ve been experiencing. With the change of season comes renewed energy for cleaning up and enacting meaningful change in our community. We have a well-rounded slate of speakers with informative updates scheduled for this month’s meeting on Monday the 16th. I hope you all can join us.

As most of you are aware, our December newsletter contained a bit of misinformation on the status of the indoor pool at the Norfolk Fitness & Wellness Center (NFWC). The inadvertent uproar that it caused led myself and the civic league board to pursue more information on the status of the overall facility and plans for a replacement pool. (To reiterate the current situation, the indoor pool is past its designed lifespan, and the dome is expected to fail its annual structural inspection at some point in the next 3 years, at which point the existing pool will be permanently closed. The inspection takes place every March.) Below is a recap of what we have learned. In the spirit of transparency and communication, I have tried to keep this as objective and factual as possible and do my best not to include my own opinions and biases.  The Wards Corner civic league has a vested interest in the NFWC being a successful facility given that it sits within the confines of our neighborhood.

Regarding plans for a replacement pool, there are currently no specific plans or earmarked funds. The current Recreation, Parks, and Open Spaces (RPOS) master plan was adopted in 2012 and calls for an Olympic size pool on the NFWC site. The civic league board is asking for a specific plan for a replacement pool to be established as soon as possible so that it is ready to enact when the dome inevitably fails its inspection.

The civic league board has asked RPOS staff for data on the financial viability of the NFWC. We are concerned that the permanent closure of the indoor pool (particularly with no specific replacement plan in place) could lead to a significant drop in membership and eventual closure of the facility and would like some assurances, with supporting numerical data, that this will not happen.

In our discussions, some residents have asked why the NFWC does not accept city facility use cards and why membership rates are as much as four times the rates of city recreation centers. So I asked city staff for an official statement that I could share with our residents and received the following:

The Norfolk Fitness and Wellness Center isn’t a recreation center but a wellness center that features the following: fitness rooms, racquetball gymnasium, indoor pool and outdoor pool. This facility is a membership driven facility. This facility is close to a 90,000 sq. foot facility.

The typical Norfolk Recreation Center is 10,000 to 26,000 sq feet which provides a community meeting room, office space, restrooms. A handful of these centers may have a gymnasium and a small fitness room but the scope of programming and services are not that of a Fitness/ Wellness Center.

NORFOLK RECREATION, PARKS, & OPEN SPACES

I probed a little further and also learned the following:

  • All NFWC membership fees go into the RPOS general fund; no membership fees are allocated directly to the NFWC facility.
  • NFWC membership fees total less than half of the total expenses of the facility.

Our civic league board is now asking city staff to provide specific membership metrics as well as additional details on the specific services and amenities provided to NFWC members that differentiate this facility from other city facilities. This is to provide us and you, the residents of Wards Corner, with the assurance that our neighborhood facility is alive and well. We plan to share an update with you at our April meeting. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns of your own that you would like to include in this conversation, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you!
Scott Guirlinger

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