Kent Parks and Rec will close its underused fitness center and change staffing

A photo of workout equipment inside the Kent Parks and Rec Fitness Center
Kent Parks and Rec photo

After losing about $60,000 a year since it opened in 2013, Kent’s Fitness Center is slated to close by the end of the year.

The city has been leasing the small storefront at 1205 W. Main St, but lack of memberships and increasing rent requirements do not make it feasible to renew the lease when it comes due in April 2022, Parks and Recreation Director Angela Manley said.

The gym equipment, which amounts to a few “well-used” treadmills, an elliptical, a recumbent bike, dumbbells, and the like, will be turned over to an online auction house for anyone to acquire, she said. Kent Parks and Rec will advertise the auction for any local residents who may be interested.

Currently, about 13 people are subscribed to fitness class memberships at $25 a month, and 23 people have $10 monthly gym memberships. If classes cannot be rescheduled elsewhere in the city, such as the Roy Smith Shelter House in Fred Fuller Park or the Rec Center on Franklin Avenue, all memberships will be refunded, she said.

There are no full-time jobs associated with the Fitness Center, and the four part-time employees will be reassigned to other duties within the department, Manley said.

Manley is also set to recommend some Parks and Rec staff changes, including eliminating the department’s second highest position, that of Recreation Supervisor. That position was most recently held by Nancy Pizzino, who left the department in April after former Director John Idone did not recommend her for the director’s position despite her having served since 2002. When she left the city, Pizzino was earning $85,657 plus benefits.

Manley intends to add a full-time marketing and special events coordinator, who will head up community outreach, public relations, social media, corporate sponsorship programs, event development and community events.

She also intends to add a full-time sports activities coordinator, who will handle year-round youth and adult sports programs, clinics, camps, tournaments and leagues.

The salary range for both positions is between $41,168 and $58,392 a year, plus benefits.

Manley said she is basing the staff changes upon the request of the Parks and Recreation Department’s Board of Directors. Responsibilities have been split among the department’s part-time employees, but full-time employees who are consistently available are needed.

“It’s too big of a responsibility to have it split among several part-time people,” she said.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.

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