Council: Fitness Park at DeFrees

There has been wrangling over the location, but an outdoor fitness park has a final seal of approval from Warren City Council.

Council on Monday voted unanimously to approve the placement of the proposed park at DeFrees Park on Fourth Avenue.

Heidi Ekey, representing the Community Mobilization Initiative, a five-business entity supporting the project, said at council’s meeting that the cost of the project is estimated at $77,771. “We really like that number,” she added.

Fundamentally, a fitness park is a free outdoor gym. Exercise equipment which does not require supervision is installed, items such as a leg press or an air walker. Around the equipment, a poured and placed rubber base, similar to the one at the Crescent Park playground, will be installed. Ekey said the rubber base will cost as much as the equipment.

While the city raised maintenance concerns at a meeting last month, those issues have been addressed. Ekey explained that a pledge has been made for between $4,000 and $5,000 to serve as a maintenance fund for the park. She noted that the pieces that most often need replaced are not expensive.

“There would be no change in the existing insurance costs,” she added. Tim Madeley, US head of operations for the company that produces outdoor fitness equipment, Norwell, said, “We also have a $3 million policy that covers design” that the city would be added to.

Regarding safety, Ekey said the design of the park “probably goes above and beyond what is probably needed for safety.” Green space has been maintained in the design as well. She said the park is approximately 37,000 square feet. “Our space is about 2,500 square feet,” she said. “We’re going to be taking up six to seven percent of the total park. We feel that that allows a lot of green space to stay uninterrupted.”

Ekey explained their goal is to enter an agreement “between our group and the city… and donate completely,” including the maintenance fund. “We very much want to have an agreement that makes the city council comfortable accepting this gift.”

Speaking regarding the construction of the equipment, Ekey said, “This is super-high quality materials in all aspects… not something that will corrode. All of these pieces of equipment are made from the highest quality… The standards are rigorous (on) how they want it installed. They will provide training for maintenance.”

She noted that the metal on the pieces comes with a 15-year warranty while plastic parts, movables and rubber come with a three-year warranty.

Madeley explained that the company is developing a new smart phone app that users could use to track their workouts as well as find Norwell fitness parks. He also explained that they “can use the data anonymously on the back end to give the city information on how the park and equipment are being used.”

Ekey said the Initiative’s goal is to have the park installed by Oct. 26. “We’re confident we can do that,” she said.

She explained that they have partnered with the Warren County Development Association, through the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry, and “they would be the purchaser of the equipment at this point.”

“I think this is a fantastic complement” to lifestyle change in Warren, said Councilman Joe Sprentz.