Normal Town Council moves forward on ‘fitness court’ with National Fitness Campaign

NORMAL — The Normal Town Council took the first step Tuesday toward the installation of a public outdoor fitness facility.

Council approved a resolution to participate in the National Fitness Campaign, which is a nonprofit organization pushing to improve health by installing “fitness courts” in communities across the country.

“Initially it looked like we were just buying a fitness center but we are looking at buying so much more than that,” said Doug Damery, Normal’s parks and recreation director.

The town’s participation in the campaign and the subsequent installation of the fitness court, which is a functional fitness circuit training system of full-body exercises designed for adults of various skill levels and physical abilities, also includes the design, $25,000 in grant funding, support from the National Fitness Campaign in finding sponsors to aid in funding the project and installation guidance.

The campaign also has an ambassador training program aimed at introducing the training circuit to residents as well as a mobile app that provides additional information about how to use the court, workouts and other features.

Damery said Rosa Parks Commons has been identified as a likely site for the fitness court in part because of its location at 105 E. Raab Road, adjacent to Constitution Trail, but that decision has not been finalized.

The court costs $140,000 plus installation and preparation costs estimated at $40,000.

In council documents, town staff indicated the site preparation and installation would be completed through the town, estimating it would require a budget of $20,000 for materials to be included in the fiscal year 2022-23 budget.

Approving this resolution gave town staff the go-ahead to begin reaching potential sponsors, a process Damery said he hopes to have completed by June.

The resolution passed over two dissenting votes from Trustees Kathleen Lorenz and Stan Nord. Trustee Karyn Smith was absent.

Lorenz said it seemed like a nice concept, like “icing on a cake” but “seems a little gimmick-y to me.”

“I think we’ve got some really good infrastructure right now with respect to our linear park, that the investment that we continue to do, which I think is good for our Constitution Trail. Our park system — I think we’ve got a good base. Would this be nice? Sure. I don’t know that I’m convinced it’s necessary,” she said before the vote, adding that she had concerns regarding competition for local gyms and health clubs.

Nord said he would be more supportive of this project if funding was secured before council’s vote to proceed, adding that if competition was not an issue, local gyms may be interested in being sponsors.

“I would like to see the funding, all the donors identified ahead of time so we know really what the ask is of council for how much money is needed,” he said. “I see this as a ‘nice to have,’ but it’s a sunny day solution and it’s a want project. We’ve got streets and infrastructure that need dollars. I’d rather see these dollars go there at this time.”

Damery said his department purposefully waited until council gave support before pursuing sponsorships.

Trustees Scott Preston, Kevin McCarthy and Chemberly Cummings in their comments highlighted the ways this project fits into the town’s comprehensive goals addressing the community’s health and the benefit of residents having free access to the facility.

McCarthy said he supports “healthy active programming and infrastructure. I think this is a great opportunity to invest in health-related public playground infrastructure and systems,” adding that while most playgrounds are made for children, this fitness court would be aimed at “a broad range of adults.”

Schools start to reopen in the US and Mexico, but students and staff need to give negative COVID tests in many institutions to be able to return to work. Schools around the world are struggling with how to return to classes amid COVID spikes. In New York City authorities are actively encouraging children back to school, saying they’re better off in class than at home. In Seattle, schools are reopening a day late to give pupils time to take COVID tests, while Los Angeles’ biggest school district also delayed the restart and said students need to test negative before being allowed back. Schools opened on time in Mexico City, but parents are concerned that their children are at risk. Many classes in Mexico city are less than half full.

Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.

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Region: Bloomington,Feeds,City: Bloomington,Local,Region: Central

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January 4, 2022 at 10:53PM

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