Blue Earth City Council this week discussed the possibility of expanding Faribault County Fitness Center, which is owned and operated by the city. It seems more residents of Blue Earth are making the smart move and getting in shape. This has created a crowding problem in the weight room and locker rooms. A good problem to have - as opposed to there being no interest in the center - yet a frustrating one for patrons.
Expansion plans involve larger locker rooms and workout areas, as well as a business office. All of this could help boost membership even more, helping to offset the cost of construction.
It all sounds good, but there are some questions to ask: If the fitness center is so attractive to people, couldn't it be operated as a business rather than a city service? People may suggest that things haven't always been so great, or may not always be so great, in terms of local interest in fitness. But that doesn't seem like a reason for the city to be involved either. Should Blue Earth residents really have to subsidize the facility when people are not in the mood to use it?
We know that when certain services become troubled or waning in towns, there is a tendency for cities to be called on to provide them. Some people want the service itself; others think their town needs it to be "attractive," even if they don't use the service themselves. Often forgotten are the people paying the bills.
We suspect the city of Blue Earth is not going to stop operating the fitness center. However, it should be looking for ways to do just that. In the alternative, given the pending expansion, residents better hope that enthusiasm for fitness continues.