Monett's gymnastics center

Friday, March 9, 2012
Managing editor Murray Bishoff

The storied history of the Monett gymnastics program seems like there ought to be a lesson somewhere. Here was a stunning success that shriveled up and went away with hardly a notice.

We can argue the value of the city running its own recreation program. If the bottom line is the only measure of success, small towns wouldn't have any recreation opportunities. But the number of participants tell a different story. Recreation Director Kermit Daniel ran a very active program, and the gymnastics program was its crown jewel, involving over 200 children after a decade of work.

If it hadn't been for the city's recreation program, the YMCA might not be in Monett, or at least not in the big way it is today.

We have a significant resource in Monett today thanks to the wonderful donation of land for a gymnastics facility from Randy and Julie Witt, and the investment by the city in a terrific building. The program perhaps deserved a little more time to get on a firmer financial footing before the city pulled out under the premise the program was not making money.

Nonetheless, the city continued nurturing the program by leasing the building at a bargain rate. Some of those running the operation did well and continued drawing crowds. The recent lack of activity at the facility is no reflection on those who really worked to provide a service to the community.

The problem with a lease is the city has no control over the vendor involved, the level of promotion or the price. If you want that degree of control, you run it yourself.

Because an extended period of time has passed since the gymnastics program really shined in Monett, it may be very hard to convince a private buyer that the operation can still draw a crowd. Indeed, the public sentiment toward the program has gone cold.

The city may have to consider leasing the building to the YMCA if no private buyer surfaces. The present economy and low level of gymnastics activity in town hardly makes ideal conditions for selling a $310,000 facility.

But let there be no doubt, there has been a strong demand for gymnastics in and around the Monett community. Monett has a wonderful facility. A great many people invested significant effort over many years to develop this resource, and it deserves a chance to continue.