After months of debate, the Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board have finally decided to keep of the Natatorium's rate structure the same.
Board Chairman Tim Gorbach explains to AkronNewsNow.com that things are staying as is.
"I made a motion that we have a reconsideration of that same motion to change the rates, and both failed 3-2 to make any changes, so the rates will stay the same at this time."
Falls Park Board Chairman Tim Gorbach by Akron NewsNow
The rate structure issue came to light in January when Shane and Coty May, a same-sex married couple were denied a family rate at the gym.
Shane May was in attendance during the Park Board's meeting and he expressed his displeasure with Thursday's ruling.
"I'm very disappointed that they didn't reconsider changing this policy that discriminates against same-sex couples," May said.
"I thought that there would be more hope that they would, but their opinions are set in their minds and don't want to take any criticism for it, so their minds are just set."
Shane May by Akron NewsNow
Coty, an Iraq war veteran suffered injuries in combat and wished to use the Nat for physical therapy and rehabilitation. Shane says that process is still an everyday struggle.
"It's an ongoing process with Coty, I don't think he'll ever get back to where he was before his service time, but he has his good days and bad days."
Gorbach says he was one of those who tried to make the gym's rate policies more inclusive.
"I tried to make the rate structure more inclusive and it was voted down twice and failed," Gorbach said.
"I'm only one member of the board, so two of us made an attempt to change things."
Gorbach proposed earlier a "head of household "structure that would have eliminated what some called a discriminatory rate plan.
The "w/spouse" plan currently calls for heterosexual married couples to receive the $255 discount versus individual members who pay more.
Thursday night's measure failed 3-2, which was the case in March when the Board voted on the issue the first time.
Mayor Don Robart supports the board's decision, saying that he's "sort of irritated" that people advocate for social issues without a funding mechanism. The mayor says he's not homophobic, just fiscally responsible.
Don Robart by Christopher Keppler 1
"The bottom line is that it's a financial issue," said Robart. "I don't think anybody has any problem with the gay community. They're more than welcome to the natatorium. We just don't want to change our policy and I salute the Where things go from here is anyone's guess, but Park Board Chair Tim Gorbach says that despite the ruling, people can still voice their opinions on this issue with their elected officials.
"I would ask that people who wished we would have made a change to continue to voice their opinion, to contact our board, park administration and even City Council again."
Cuyahoga Falls City Council President Diana Colavecchio said she was disappointed in the ruling as well, but that this issue is far from over.
"I feel the people will speak to this and that the State Constitution will be changed and our rate structure at the Nat will change as well," Colavecchio said.
"I know we're going to take some heat for this, but it was an open dialogue and it doesn't get any better than that."
The Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board will finally decide on the future of the Natatorium's rate structure Thursday evening.
Board Chairman Tim Gorbach says the group's decision to change the language of the fitness facility's married discount rate could go either way.
"That resolution could be to keep the rate structure the same, or it could be to make it the same, " Gorbach said.
"At this time I don't know what the will of the Board is."
The ongoing issue stems from Shane and Coty May, a same-sex married couple who were denied a family rate at the gym in January.The couple were married in Washington D.C. on October 28 of last year.
In the April meeting ,Gorbach asked the Board to take time to review the Nat's current rate policies before voting in May.
"I wanted to make sure that everyone knew all the definitions therein with how we currently charge our members."
Gorbach says he doesn't want the Natatorium and the city of Cuyahoga Falls to be classified as discriminatory regardless of the Board's ruling.
"If we can move more away from any discriminatory items in our rate structure I certainly think that's the way to go," he explained.
The Parks and Rec Board will be meeting at 5:30pm Thursday at the Natatorium to vote on the rate structure.
The Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board revisited the ongoing rate structure debate at the Natatorium Thursday evening.
Board Chairman Tim Gorbach says he and the rest of the Board will have a decision by next month.
"At this point the Parks Board is going to do their due diligence, take all the comments under consideration, and at the next meeting we'll have a decision on if there will be any changes to the rate structure," Gorbach said.
Tim Gorbach Falls Parks and Rec Chair by Aaron Coleman
After the Parks Board had their March meeting, a few City Council members met with the Superintendent of the Park and Recreation Department to get a firmer grasp on the current rate structure and if they indeed should form a committee to review it.
The council members decided not to form a committee and asked the Board to take another look Thursday.
The debate stems from Shane and Coty May, a same-sex married couple who were denied a family rate at the gym in January.The couple were married in Washington D.C. on October 28.
Gorbach says the Board will be looking at a myriad of options within the month.
"We've got great folks and great facilities here in Cuyahoga Falls and maybe if we go to an adult-children rate program we can alleviate some of these issues."
Some members of the Cuyahoga Falls City Council says the Park Board's decision to keep the current family rates in March was based on financial reasons rather than a moral decision.
Cuyahoga Falls Ward Eight Councilman Terry Mader says this ongoing debate is not an issue of discrimination, but one of fiscal responsibility.
"It's very detrimental to come up with a plan of paying off our debt in response to the money owed," Mader said.
"To me that's a backward step in being fiscally responsible when it comes to this city."
If approved, a rate change could created revenue losses for the Nat in the neighborhood of $49,000
Gorbach says the issue has become a"pro-gay or anti-gay" debate and wants to expand the fitness facility's discount policy for all patrons in an attempt to eliminate what some call discrimination.
When Shane and Coty were denied the family membership, they were told by the Natatorium staff the marriage was not recognized by Ohio law.
There were people on both sides of the issue at Thursday's meeting, as expected but Gorbach quelled some of the tension by saying that the public forum was not a place to attack one another's viewpoint, or that of the Parks Board.
Shane's husband Coty, an Iraq war veteran suffered injuries in combat and wished to use the Nat for physical therapy and rehabilitation.
The Natatorium's refusal to give the family discount to the couple sparked an online petition with over 4,000 signatures and numerous emails to Falls City Council.
The facility's website has over 100 different rates for membership into the Natatorium. Various other gyms across Northeast Ohio currently offer family discounts to same-sex couples.
The Board will decide on the issue during the May 10th meeting.
The Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board will be taking a second look at the rate structure of the Natatorium.
Board Chairman Tim Gorbach said Cuyahoga Falls City Council decided to take no action and leave it up to Board for now.
"A few Council members met with the Superintendent of the Park and Recreation Department to get a firmer grasp on our current rate structure and if they indeed should form a committee to review it.," Gorbach said.
"The council members decided not to form a committee and asked the Board to take another look at this issue."
Gorbach made a motion to the Board last March to amend the fitness facility's rate structure, which failed 3-2. The issue stems from Shane and Coty May, a same-sex married couple who were denied a family rate at the gym in January.
He proposed a head of household rate structure during the March meeting.
"I was thinking the household rate would be based on the number of people who lived in the house regardless of relationship," Gorbach said.
"If one person lived in a house they would pay a certain amount and if two people lived in a house they would pay a different rate and so on."
The head of household structure would eliminate what some call a discriminatory rate plan. The "w/spouse" plan currently calls for heterosexual married couples to receive the $255 discount versus individual members who pay more.
The household rate could create revenue losses for the Nat in the neighborhood of $49,000.
Gorbach says some people are on both sides of the rate structure issue, but he's confident the Board can make a decision that everyone can agree on.
"It's a balancing act that we as a park board will need to look at and see what we feel is the best way to serve the community as a whole."
The Falls Parks and Rec Board will meet up to discuss the issue Thursday (today) at 5:30 at the Natatorium.
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