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Parks Board Rejects Change to Natatorium Rates

The Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board rejected two motions by chairman Tim Gorbach to open up the gym's "w/spouse" membership.

In a controversial move, the Cuyahoga Falls Parks and Recreation Board voted down two motions at its meeting on Thursday night to uphold the "w/spouse" membership rate.

Under the Nat's existing rate structure, the w/spouse rate applies only to heterosexual couples who hold marriage licenses recognized by the Ohio Constitution. Such couples are afforded a yearly membership discount of $260 versus those who hold individual memberships.

The motions called for changing 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 the discount.

Board members Lorrie Shannon, Dick Sebastian and Debbie Ritzinger voted against the motions raised and seconded by Gorbach and board member Bill Santos.

The second motion arose after Ward 5 city councilwoman Diana Colavecchio publicly addressed the board and asked it to reconsider.

Cuyahoga Falls Law Director Paul Janis and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bill Lohan each described the current rate as "discriminatory" since other gym memberships don't carry the same kind of restrictions.

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.

Following the exchange with Natatorium staff, the couple posted an online petition that drew 5,400 signatures. to Mayor Don Robart’s office in February to attract local and, subsequently, national attention in an attempt to convince city leaders to change the rules.

Shane May attended Thursday's meeting and urged the board to make a change. Several folks stood to make the opposite plea.

For more to the story, check back with Cuyahoga Falls Patch at 6 a.m. Friday.

Kate Bigam May 11, 2012 at 12:17 AM
So, so disgusted by our city right now. HOW IS THIS ISSUE STILL HAPPENING?
John McMillan May 11, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Yes, it is quite disappointing, isn't it? I will never understand why this is such a problem for people, most of whom will never even step foot in the Natatorium. But of course they DO have an opinion!
thomas Morgan May 11, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Way to treat an injured war veteran Cuyahoga Falls. SHAME ON YOU!!
Melissa Keenan May 11, 2012 at 10:04 AM
Shameful.
Rob Deveney May 17, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Many people attending the meetings that opposed these motions were Cuyahoga Falls residents and were members of the Nat. The concern was very simply about the Ohio Constitution and the definition of marriage in Ohio. No one, Shane or Coty or anyone else was denied membership to the Nat, just not given the same rate as a married couple. There are many non-married, heterosexual couples at the Nat who do not recieve this rate as well. It is important that we don't let our desire to make everyone feel good keep us from upholding the standards set forth by the law in our State. That being said, there is a great appreciation for Coty and his service to our nation. All opposition was presented with that respect and not combativley.
Troy McClure May 17, 2012 at 02:52 PM
People who constantly play the "Ohio Constitution" card are showing they really don't have any valid argument. That's up there with Catholic entities showing they hypocrisy and stupidity when they claim their religion is being interfered with -- although they're running a BUSINESS. The Ohio Constitution really has no relevance here (but, I'm sure that if the board decided to give gay couples the 'discount', a handful of morons would sue). So, what is "important" is that all of those who are so opposed actually make a VALID argument, and not fall back on something that is not relevant. A city is not actually required to acknowledge that (ridiculous) amendment initiated by a bunch of homophobic religious hypocrites who have no issues banging their relatives (but, I digress -- although truth hurts). It refers to the STATE! There are quite a few cities in Ohio that offer benefits to same sex couples (they pay for it). This is no different; they still have to pay to use the facilities, they're just getting a modest discount. Oooohh. There are times when opponents look utterly ridiculous. This is one.
Rob Deveney May 17, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Troy, actually, when it comes to recognizing same-sex marriage officially as a city, Cuyahoga Falls is bound to the state constitution's amendment. That amendment wasn't arbitrarily put in place by "a bunch of homophobic religious hypocrites" (using your words) it was voted on, democratically by the people of the state of Ohio, which throughout our history has been the standard by which all Americans place value on the law of the land. All that being said, the argument here is not to deny anyone a discount. (we could argue what extra costs are and aren't beneficial to our city, later). I personally don't have any problem with the Nat handing out any discount they deem necessary, just don't call it marriage. That is the argument, and it is valid and factual.
Maria Perez June 23, 2012 at 09:28 AM
Yes, we have standards for a reason: to stave off anarchy. The Nanatorium would've stood to lose a ton of money had it amended this policy. You should've read the transcript of what Shane May said at the meeting. It was a veritible RIVER of crocodile tears and feigned sentiment. It's like, some people were born to lie - this guy wasn't. This just serves as another aggressive push to use brute-force politics to strongarm society into granting this tiny minority entitlement status, and they'll stop at nothing, even making us relinquish basic constitutional freedoms to achieve their frivilous demands. Be warned.
John McMillan June 23, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I guess you haven't read the legal statement on this. Counsel for the Parks board found that they could offer the discount without any legal repercussion. It was their choice, no police were coming after them if they chose to offer the discount! For some other reasons, they decided not to offer it.
John McMillan June 23, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Pardon, your ignorance is showing! Turn off the Fox News, and start thinking for yourself, please. Your comment is just a regurgitation of what many other paranoid, homophobic media clowns have said, and it makes you sound paranoid and homophobic. Actually, there is much hatred and homophobia in your words, and it's sickening and laughable at the same time. You have the nerve to talk about minorities "strongarming" society, MARIA PEREZ?? Ironic. And just what "basic constitutional freedoms" have YOU given up lately? Can you tell me just how much money the Nat would have lost over this issue? WIthout looking up a quote...do you really know, or are you just parroting someone again? It's clear from your comments that your head and heart are full of fear and hatred.
John McMillan June 23, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Did you not read this part of the article? "Cuyahoga Falls Law Director Paul Janis and Parks and Recreation Superintendent Bill Lohan each described the current rate as "discriminatory" since other gym memberships don't carry the same kind of restrictions." They wanted to change the wording from "spouse" to "spouse or second adult." There was NO suggestion of debate on the oh-so-holy "definition of marriage." This decision was made out of personal prejudice, under the convenient guise of abiding by an unrelated Ohio law.

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