In April, Holmes Beach officials withheld $22,500 for Anna Maria Island Community Center, but were reassured Tuesday
HOLMES BEACH -- The Holmes Beach Commission voted 5-0 Tuesday to give $22,500 to the Anna Maria Island Community Center after withholding the funds in late April.
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Two months ago commissioners were concerned about the center's building plan, which included expanding a second-floor fitness center. Island fitness center owners and some residents said the expansion would harm their businesses. At Tuesday's regular city commission, Jim Froeschle, a board member with the commuity center insisted it was not trying to compete with local businesses and that plans for the fitness center have evolved.
"It is nothing like what you saw in the early concept drawing," Froeschle told city commissioners, adding that there are plans to open up rooms within the center to become multi-use, flexible spaces.
According to Froeschle, 10 percent of AMICC's revenues come from Holmes Beach, the city of Anna Maria and Manatee County.
"We need your help and we need the help of the community," he said.
Kristen Lessig, who has moved from AMICC managing director to executive director, spoke in detail about the center's plans for programs and activities, including services for seniors such as pickle ball and tennis.
"We're more than just a building. We are a community center," Lessig said. "We want to go beyond the walls -- think creatively about how to do that."
Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson said he felt encouraged by the presentation and that he was "most pleased" with the attitude and sincerity he's experienced through discussions with the community center's leadership.
Holmes Beach Commission Chairwoman Judy Titsworth said her children went to the center for sports and shared her feelings on the role of the center on the island.
"We all feel very strongly about saving the community center," she said. "We just wanted to make sure that we weren't throwing our money away."
After the vote, Lessig stood in the City Hall lobby and said she felt "extremely encouraged" with both the community center's direction and the support shown by the island cities.
"I think that it shows that we're on the right track," she said, "and we're doing what's needed to bring the community back to the center."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.