Gulf Shores purchases land for Auburn project, eyes rec expansion

By Crystal Cole/Islander Editor
Posted 6/26/17

Gulf Shores residents and visitors may soon have much larger selection of fitness offerings.

The proposal being considered is to expand the Cultural Center on County Road 6 to be an extension of the …

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Gulf Shores purchases land for Auburn project, eyes rec expansion

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Gulf Shores residents and visitors may soon have much larger selection of fitness offerings.

The proposal being considered is to expand the Cultural Center on County Road 6 to be an extension of the Bodenhamer Center and to provide health and fitness offerings to the population in the northern part of the city.

Grant Brown, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Director, presented the expansion proposal to the council. He said the Bodenhamer Center holds approximately 45 classes weekly, all in one room.

“The number of patrons who are using the rec center, the number of memberships that we have, the number of daily passes that we sell, we’re getting to the point where we are getting toward the capacities that were originally thought about when the rec center was first built,” Brown said. “We also have a problem as out city continues to grow in the north, and a lot of our recreation is still confined to the island.”

The facility boasts more classrooms that, while at a smaller capacity each than at Bodenhamer, will help expand the classes available. Barre, TRX resistance training and cycling classes will be offered as well as a computerized kiosk with downloadable content from the web.

The proposal requests bolstered staffing for the Cultural Center as well as a fee increase for access to the facilities.

“In a nutshell, it’s a very small four to five percent increase,” Brown said. “The pool-based membership would see the biggest increase for the few people who only utilize the pool. Quite honestly, that pool is the single most expensive piece of equipment we maintain.”

Brown said the daily pass rate would jump from $5 to $10, but that the daily pass was always meant for trial purposes and visitors only.

The Bodenhamer Center is nearing 20 years of service and in that time Brown said there has only been one price increase for access to its offerings.

The new prices would include membership at both facilities.

Councilman Philip Harris spoke out in strong support of the proposal.

“To me, we purchased that property in order to expand our services to the north part of the community,” Harris said. “This is doing that, and it’s good to see that the demand is there. I’m glad to see that plan is coming together and that purchase is going to be utilized. Nobody likes to talk about fee increases, but you’re offering more.”

Also at the meeting, the council called a special session in order to vote to purchase the land for the Auburn University development.

With the current construction timeline and permitting, the development would have been completed just one month before it was set to open. Movie up the purchase would allow the process to start one month early.

The purchase price came in close to $2.1 million, but the city expects bond reimbursement in three to four weeks.

Harris said the council needed to move forward on the purchase.

“All the jobs have been bid out, and there is a contractor in place waiting on a notice to proceed,”Harris said. “This 30 days could make a real difference.”