A funny thing happened on the way to the gym a few months ago. Yep, I arrived and it was closed. All the equipment was gone! Empty! The note said my membership would transfer laterally to another local gym. The owners were going out of business.
Flashback 7 years ago when the City of Kinston and County of Lenoir entered into a public/private contractual agreement with Woodmen of the World to build office facilities, a state of the art gymnasium and a water park! An $8 million project. Taxpayers dollars were put on the table quickly to the tune of $1 million. Half from the City and half from the County and the Woodmen Community Center was constructed. There are other recurring expenses such as maintaining insurance, but the contract called for $1 million. The center/water park did remarkably well for the first year but has been losing money ever since.
The Woodmen Community Center has already become a Fiscal Albatross to the Woodmen of the World organization and to the City/County. So let’s look at where our liberal elected leaders and non-elected bureaucrats have led us.
First infraction – Government should NEVER compete with the private sector! Public/private partnerships are enticing but rarely work without infringing upon personal rights. Our leadership entered into an agreement, as such January 30, 2011, with YOUR money READ HERE.
The Woodmen Center was a losing proposition from the beginning. Using tax dollars to put gyms out of business or damage them financially is a cardinal sin. But the public bought the “snake oil” hook, line, and sinker. Did the residents have a choice in the matter? I think not as the vote was shoved through with very little public disclosure.
The promise of affordable memberships and the water park bringing business was a sales gimmick. Prior to building of the Center, I questioned a, now retired, department head as to how it is that the population he intended to serve couldn’t afford a membership and most likely wouldn’t be able to get there. He said they would have scholarships and the River Walk would be built making it easier for travel by bike or walking. I asked where the scholarships would come from and why he thought he could depend on a trail that wasn’t even funded as a travel route from east Kinston. He could not answer the question.
Now there is also a lawsuit pending against the Woodmen after a near drowning. Losing money hand over fist and facing a lawsuit of this magnitude, no wonder they want to “Gift” the facility to local government (Click HERE). Will our elected leaders make the same mistake again and fall for the Bling? From reading some news quotes, sounds as if our freshman Mayor and some others in leadership are leaning that way. It’s not YOUR money to lose, Mayor! This is a terrible deal for the City and County. Do the right thing!
As we say in my profession ~ “You start out wrong and keep going wrong and you wind up wrong!”
Kinston City Council and Lenoir County Commissioners must hold Woodmen to this contract.The Woodmen Organization can bear the financial burden in fulfilling their obligations. If it takes a lawsuit to persuade them to do the right thing, then so be it.
The taxpayers CAN NOT support this Center without more hidden fees and/or increased taxes. Kinston and Lenoir County have one of the highest combined tax rates in the state of North Carolina. Ironically, we are one of the poorest counties in the State. Those residents already bearing the brunt of the fiscal responsibility in this County are done with inadequate leadership. We will NOT further subsidize incompetence. Tell them to do the right thing!
Read the original agreement by clicking HERE
- Contact your City Council Members and County Commissioners and tell them NOT to take the “GIFT” from the Woodmen of the World organization. Tell them to stick to the original agreement no matter what. We don’t want the inevitable debt!
- Links for contacting City Council Members are HERE
- Links for contacting County Commissioners are HERE
You can stay abreast of developments by visiting the Woodmen Infomation for Kinston-Lenoir Citizens Facebook Page by clicking HERE.