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‘They don’t own it’ — Parks & Rec director says county cuts don’t mean fitness center must close

Comments made by the Boyle County Fiscal Court meeting regarding plans to close the William Bunny Davis Fitness Center are misleading, said Parks and Rec Director John Drake on Friday.

The Boyle County Fiscal Court voted Tuesday to cut its funding level for the Bunny Davis fitness center, in what magistrates said was an attempt to cause the closure of the center’s lower level, which includes exercise equipment and a weight room. But Parks & Recreation Director John Drake said Friday the fiscal court’s move doesn’t mean the fitness center is closing and people are being misled by the fiscal court member’s comments.

Since an article about the fiscal court’s vote published Wednesday, Drake said people have been coming to the center, attempting to get refunds because they think it’s closing — it isn’t, not as far as he knows. Drake said the center should be able to remain open, at least through the end of the year.

“(The Fiscal Court) may vocalize the opinion to close it, but they don’t own it; they just subsidize it,” Drake said.

The fiscal court voted Tuesday to fund the Bunny Davis fitness center by $12,100 less than requested, and the Bunny Davis pool by $14,300 less than requested. The fiscal court also to increase funding for the main Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreation budget by $19,500.

Judge-Executive Harold McKinney said the reorganization of Parks & Rec funding could “send a clear message that we want to put our resources in Millennium Park and not in the Bunny Davis center and the pool.” Multiple magistrates agreed with that assessment during the meeting.

The City of Danville owns the building and the city and county share a portion of the operating costs — the city is supposed to pay 45 percent and the county is supposed to pay 55 percent.

“What could happen now is that the city could say they want to close it — then that’s a different idea,” Drake said. “We’ve had reductions every year … They give us the money and our board decides where that goes.”

The money from the two governmental entities is combined with the money from memberships to help make up the budget for the Bunny Davis center. Drake said Parks & Rec could continue to run the center by shortening hours, increasing user fees — if necessary — and looking for alternative revenue sources.

According to a post on the Facebook page of the Danville-Boyle County Parks and Rec, the pool serves more than 100 members of the center’s swim team; provides space for people taking lessons; and offers public swim time for many people who have no other pool to use. The pool opens this year on May 26.

There are people who use the gym space on the lower level daily, and the center is used for private events and a martial arts class, according to the post.

“At some point, when you get all the cuts done, we won’t be able to catch up,” Drake said.