Rochester mayor vetoes open gym pilot program proposal

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(ABC 6 News) – Rochester Mayor Kim Norton vetoed a motion by the city council to use contingency funds to start an open gym pilot program.

A rare action by the mayor. It’s only the third time she has vetoed a city council motion leaving some city council members puzzled as to why she did this.

“And the mayor doesn’t think it’s a great idea which I think is sad,” said Councilmember Shaun Palmer.

Back in February the city council met with Rochester Public Schools about the pilot program to open up gyms to the public and encourage kids to get out and be active in the community. In mid-May, the motion passed for up to 50 thousand dollars to fund the program, which would run from September through May.

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“I like the collaborative part of this. I saw the superintendent on Wednesday, and he said he was really excited we had this,” said Palmer.

But on Monday the mayor vetoed this motion.

“I still had a lot of unanswered questions, and I hoped that he would hold off for two weeks so he and I could speak about it,” said Mayor Kim Norton.

She’s wondering about the gym space already available in town and whether there’s a need for this.

“I just felt like the council had made this decision in a vacuum without the community engagement, without really knowing what was needed and where it was needed,” said Norton.

But Councilmember Palmer says they’ve done their due diligence.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people who would like to use a gym and are sad that we don’t have more gym time,” said Palmer.

Despite the veto, Mayor Norton is on board to get kids active in the community.

“One thing have learned is that open gyms may not be the solution. People need programmed activities and supervised activities that are organized,” said Norton.

The next city council meeting is on June 5th. Councilmember Palmer says that he plans to overturn the veto. The council needs to have 5 out of the 7 votes to do so. Then the plans for the pilot program will go through.