The owner of Carroll Fitness Center in Finksburg said Friday he willtake over management of Leisure Health Spa, which filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code last October.

DougEmel, owner of the Finksburg center since May 1990, said he plans tosend a three- to five-member management team to the spa by Wednesday.

Emel will not honor current Leisure memberships, but said he willwaive a $100 initiation fee for current members who join by Feb. 15.The monthly fee will be $20, said Emel, owner of Omni Management Co.

The spa, at Route 27 and Goldenrod Terrace, will continue to operate under the Leisure name.

He said he reached an agreement Fridaywith Charles H. Winterstein to lease the 10,000-square-foot spa building on a month-to-month basis. Winterstein, owner of Westminster Health Club Inc., owns the center.

Winterstein had owned the spa until February 1990, when he sold it to Michael G. Owings, Kenneth J. Pilla, Wallace Owings III and Timothy Owings.

Spa president Michael Owings said annual renewal rates for Leisure members were as low as $15 and weren't enough to meet expenses. The club has about 1,600 members, he said.

The Chapter 11 case, in which the court was helping the company reorganize, will be converted to a Chapter 7 case, in which the business will be liquidated, he said.

Court records showed the owners had $50,000 in assets and $500,000 in liabilities in October. They owe Winterstein -- their largest debtor -- $410,000, records show.

Winterstein and his lawyer, J. Michael Earp, would not comment on the case.

Winterstein also owns the Leisure Racquetball Club, a business separate from the spa and located in another building just north of the spa.

After a year, Emel said he will evaluate the spa and decide whether to buy the business. Emel, 33, said he has 10 years of experience in the health club business and has "turned around" 14 clubs in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania.

He said he hopes to open the pool as soon as possible. Owings said the pool has been closed for about a month and a half.

Emel said he will evaluate fitness programs at the spa and make changes.

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