WEIRTON - The Weirton Board of Parks and Recreation voted Thursday to approve a new household membership option at Millsop Community Center.
The household membership will be the same price as the family membership and is available now. Up to two adults residing in the same household and dependent children living with them can qualify. Those interested in signing up can provide income tax statements, driver's licenses and/or utility bills to prove residency, according to Terry Weigel, executive director.
"Almost on a monthly basis we have couples come in who aren't married but do live together, and they're often turned away unless they want to buy the individual memberships. We see some potential there. It could improve our membership numbers," Weigel said. "Let's say something happened and I had a daughter move home with me and she had children that would qualify."
The topic initially came up at February's regular meeting when board members discussed a letter from Dr. Rachel Gilman of All About Women Health Associates. In the letter, Gilman stated that marriage as a requirement to purchase a family membership, which is cheaper than an individual membership, amounts to discrimination against non-married people and their families. She argued that the policy was exclusionary, and cited obesity rates in the state of West Virginia as one reason the community center should be more inclusive.
"It's a different situation than it was 40 years ago. A lot of people are living together because of financial constraints, and they're trying to make ends meet. On the other side, we have this obesity problem throughout the whole country. By making another category we're trying to help the people who aren't in traditional situations. We want to give them the same access to better health," Weigel said.
Board member Deb Witkowski made the motion to accept the new household membership policy, and it passed by a unanimous vote.
In other business, board members spent about 40 minutes in an executive session with Vince Gurrera, city attorney, to consider the legal aspects of leasing or transferring the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool property to the Marland Heights Community Association.
"During executive session, the Parks Board has authorized me to meet with your attorney, Mr. Cross, to reach something of a lease agreement. That lease agreement would be open to a public hearing, which would occur just before approval of the agreement," Gurrera said to MHCA members in attendance.
The association has been working in recent years to raise funding in order to take over and reopen the pool at Marland Heights Park. David B. Cross, an attorney based in Wellsburg, will be representing the association as work on a lease agreement moves forward.
Coty Shingle, parks director of maintenance and operations, reported on returned bids for the 60-year-old hot water heater officials expect will need to be replaced soon.
"The new one will be a smaller version. It will be dedicated, and it will only be running hot water. The benefit of that is that it will reduce the load on the current boiler, which is one of the big issues we have," Shingle said. "The pool stays the same temperature 24/7, which means there's hot water being drawn 24/7. It rarely ever gets a break."
The board voted unanimously to purchase the new water heater from Fort Steuben Maintenance for about $48,000, including installation and a three-year warranty.
"This doesn't solve all the problems, but this is the first step," Weigel said.
(Dalrymple can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)