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Flagler School Board Ends Belle Terre Swim and Racquet Club Memberships

Board Chair Will Furry spearheaded the move to end memberships. ⓒ AskFlagler

The Flagler County School Board voted 3-2 on Tuesday to end memberships with the Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club, the multi-use sports complex that’s been in the school district’s control for years. The majority vote was formed by Chair Will Furry along with Christy Chong and Sally Hunt, while Colleen Conklin and Cheryl Massaro dissented.

The facility was privately owned by ITT from its construction in 1979 until 1996, when the company elected to sell to Commonwealth Palm Coast (Palm Coast was not made a city until 1999). From there, Commonwealth Palm Coast gifted it to Flagler Schools later that year, who have owned it ever since with the stipulation that it has to be used in a way that’s available to the public.

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Different Board members had different timelines on when a decision like this would be made, with some not wanting to do it at all. Chong, who voted to end memberships, said in May 2023 that she wanted to hold off until at least the end of June this year. Massaro wanted it to come in December, which would be after both her and Conklin’s seats turn over (Massaro is running for re-election, Conklin is not). Memberships will cut off on June 30th, the end of the fiscal year.

As for when the vote was supposed to take place, the Board voted in June 2023 to take a vote in July 2024 on whether to continue club memberships, which would then take effect in August. Furry contested that he needed no further data about the club’s finances to make his decision. Though Conklin and Massaro tried to frame the issue as the Board reneging on its previous word, it was not enough to change the final outcome.

Pool memberships will end on June 30th, with gym memberships set to follow sometime this year. It operated on a $351,758 for the FY 2023-24, making back about $175,000 in revenue, good for just under half of what was spent. Proponents of concluding memberships contend that the cost-savings from the move could drive operating expenses down low enough to prevent it from being a significant financial burden.

Written By

Chris Gollon is a Flagler County resident since 2004, as well as a staple of the local independent music scene and avid observer of Central Florida politics, arts, and recreation.

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