By Zach Giroux for The Island Eye News
A new outdoor fitness center is in the works for the green space adjacent to Sullivan’s Island Town Hall that makes up Stith Park, a project that is the result of the recreationally-restrictive times associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the town’s Recreation Committee recommended that Council move forward with the finances for the outdoor gym. However, the project’s funding was not accounted for in the current fiscal year’s budget, and a state grant will not be covering as much of the total cost as previously expected.
Tuesday night, Council unanimously approved the action item despite the monetary shortcomings. Recreation Committee members also addressed a miscue that will force the town to dip deeper into its budget than originally intended.
On the heels of receiving a grant from the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Development Fund, the town was under the impression that 75% of the approximately $17,500 expenditure would be covered by the grant. The town was supposed to pay the remaining 25%, but now that cost has doubled to more than half.
Council Member Kaye Smith, Recreation Committee chair, explained how the town will only be receiving approximately $7,900 from the grant.
She said the Recreation Committee was unaware that the grant pertains only to the equipment but not the installation costs.
Smith added that the fitness center was not in this year’s budget because the Recreation Committee believed the grant would cover its full amount. There also was an option to hold the grant for two years and defer it until fiscal year 2022.
“Costs went up because the grant took so long,” Smith said. “The cost of the equipment went up, as did the installation costs.”
The remaining estimate, including labor, leaves the town paying approximately $9,500. The amount would come out of the approximate $109,000 recreation budget.
Designed by T-Rex Outdoor, the fitness center was described as a functional training station built for year-round use in a commercial setting, a blend of old-school calisthenics with new-school technology for individual and group bootcamp-style workouts. It won’t be playground equipment.
The American-made product features an adjustable ab step, adjustable dip, adjustable ab bench, outdoor battle ropes, top post extension, pull-up bar, kick plate, loop post and monkey bar.
The setup will be placed between the base of Stith Park’s man-made mound and the children’s play area.
“Right now, we are in the middle of a global pandemic where people are encouraged to get outside and not be in gyms,” said Council Member Bachman Smith, a member of the Recreation Committee. “It seems like a good idea, and it’s prudent to do at this time, considering the world we are living in right now.”
There is no set timeline to complete the installation of the fitness center, according to Town Administrator Andy Benke, but he added: “For sure by this fall.”