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Vol. 15 No. 30 - May 20, 2015

letters to the editor

Debunking some myths

Recently I attended a meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall, where they were discussing funding their annual commitment to the community center. As I am a board member at the community center, I was shocked to hear the lies being told. It is my duty as a board member to set the record straight.

First off, if you remember, the Community Center was getting ready to close it’s doors. Dawn Stiles, the director at the time, came to the town to ask if we wanted to “save the Center.” She had been hired under a great disadvantage. She was told she would not have to fund raise, and that turned out to be false. There was a large response from our residents and donations started coming in. The first order of business was to install a new board of directors, and come up with a plan to put the center on a viable financial path.

Dawn Stiles resigned for personal reasons, and new directors Cindy Thompson and Kristen Lessig were hired. The new board members, consisting of many of the most experienced business people in our area, started to look at many options. We asked the rental property management companies if they would go out to the owners of the vacation rentals, and ask the owners to purchase memberships to support the center. In order to support the additional memberships a decision was made to expand our current fitness center, and use space that was completely underutilized.

The first Myth: The center is being sold to the tourists. In fact, usage by rental guests has been minimal but the revenue from associated memberships has exceeded the combined contribution of both cities, presuming those contributions were actually made.

Second Myth: Builders and rental companies are profiting from this. The builders participating in this venture are asking their subcontractors to donate to this project. Along side of that, we need to have fund raisers that are specific to getting the fitness center expanded. There is no profit being made here, only good people willing to donate their time and energy.

Third Myth: We are not providing the city of Holmes Beach with all the financial documents it required before deciding to honor its commitment to the Center, with its annual donation of $22,500. Well, let me tell you, I wish we had all he asked for; the Center was in financial ruin when we took over. Projections for revenue at that time had no basis. We are in the process of looking at every department, and cost centers to accurately come up with real projections and actions for accountability on those projections.

Last but not least: We did not care about putting two current gyms on the Island out of business. The truth is, we care about all on this Island so much that we are donating our time, money and services anyway we can as board members to get the center running for everyone. We have asked the two gym owners to join us in our efforts, so everyone can work together to come up with a solution that is a win-win for all. We are still hopeful they will work with us.

I would also like to point out that the reason the cities have committed annual donations to the center is because we provide recreational benefits to the residents such as

the city cannot otherwise provide. To not fund their commitments takes away from our children and the families we serve. The city of Holmes Beach, however, has only two commissioners willing to stand up and honor the city’s commitment to our Center, and that was Judy Titsworth and Pat Morton. She even suggested the city do more to help out. All the other commissioners, and the Mayor Bob Johnson, refused to honor their commitment at this time and deferred until the end of June, and to that, I say shame on you.

Our Executive Director, Cindy Thompson, donated her own Harley motorcycle to the Silver Affair to raise money. All our board members donated generously to the Silver Affair and the Tour of Homes. And one of our members, Eric Abrahamson, did a beautification project by cleaning up and updating all our landscaping out of his own pocket. The cities, Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach have been absent. Shame on you all.

We will continue to do our best for this island.

Diana McManaway, secretary
Anna Maria Island Community Center

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