In a controversial move, the Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board voted down two motions, 3-2, at its meeting on Thursday night to uphold the "w/spouse" membership rate.
The motions were based on a “Memorandum of Understanding” drawn up by Cuyahoga Falls Council members Diana Colavecchio and Terry Mader and Broadman Baptist Pastors Chris McCombs and Rick Mangrum.
The memo was viewed as a compromise measure since Mader, Mangrum and McCombs had previously opposed any change to the spousal rate.
The motions aimed to reword w/spouse to "w/spouse or second adult," said board chairman Tim Gorbach.
The amended language would have allowed for any two adults living in the same local household to receive a discount, he said.
Under the Nat's existing rate structure, the w/spouse rate applies only to heterosexual couples that hold marriage licenses recognized by the Ohio Constitution. Such couples are afforded a yearly membership discount of $260 versus those who hold individual memberships.
Board members Lorrie Shannon, Dick Sebastian and Debbie Ritzinger voted against the motions raised and seconded by Gorbach and board member Bill Santos.
In previous meetings, Shannon and Sebastian expressed concern over how an alteration could impact the gym's revenue stream after Bill Lohan -- the city's parks and recreation superintendent -- said it could create a yearly $49,000 shortfall.
The second motion arose after Colavecchio publicly addressed the board and asked it to reconsider, saying the Nat had $100,000 in savings that it could use to absorb any losses over the next two years.
Roughly 80 people were in attendance, with the crowd pretty evenly split on each side of the issue.
The matter was first broached by when he and his husband, Coty May, were told by Natatorium staff in January that they could not receive the spousal discount because their Washington D.C.-based marriage wasn't recognized by the Ohio Constitution.
Coty — a U.S. Army veteran who was injured while serving in Iraq — had used the city gym for physical therapy.
Shane May attended Thursday's meeting and offered his reasoning on why he and Coty deserved to be included.
“All I wanted was to make sure my husband got the proper treatment and respect he deserves since coming home from Iraq,” said May. “He fought tooth and nail to protect our country and our freedom and now has to come home and fight for his own.”