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Columbia Association reports surplus


The Columbia Association closed the 2005 fiscal year with a $4.4 million surplus, more than a half-million above the amount that had been estimated.

Association President Maggie J. Brown told the board of directors Thursday night that the added funds were due to savings in depreciation expenses and nonoperating expenses.

"Increase in memberships, savings and savings in expenses is basically the reason for the increase at the bottom line," Brown said in an interview.

Brown said the extra funds will be applied to capital projects.

The Columbia Association budget report for the fiscal year, which ended April 30, pinpoints a $364,000 increase in membership income due in part to an intense marketing campaign for the Hobbit's Glen Golf Club and Supreme Sports Club, two association sports amenities that have undergone renovations.

The association has dedicated extensive energy and dollars into its sporting facilities after megagym Life Time Fitness obtained a contract to open a gym off Robert Fulton Drive in Columbia early next year.

Last year, the association reduced the price of its high-end membership package, offering 25 percent off the two-year package plan plus membership. The membership grants access to most of the association's facilities -- including 23 outdoor pools, three gyms, two golf clubs, indoor and outdoor tennis courts and an ice rink -- as well as the women's gym and specialty classes.

Supreme Sports Club -- which will be the closest association gym to Life Time Fitness -- underwent $1.9 million in capital improvements, including painting the building's exterior, adding art in the foyer, renovating the exterior signs, replacing furniture and adding a plasma television to the lobby lounge. The facility was also changed to a 24-hour operation last fall.

The association also renovated nearby Hopewell pool to include a new waterslide, an expanded bathhouse, new furniture and landscaping. Additional renovations, to include a 1,600-square-foot SplashPad and an expanded parking lot, are to be completed by Aug. 1.

The Supreme Sports Club and the Hopewell pool are the two main facilities poised to compete with Life Time, which typically operates 150,000-square-foot, 24-hour facilities that include two full-size gyms, indoor and outdoor pools, racquetball and squash courts, rock-climbing walls, a spa and tennis or volleyball courts.

Last spring, Hobbit's Glen reopened after a nine-month, $1.2 million renovation project. The renovations repaired long-standing problems with turf and design plans. Other improvements at the facility included a renovated club house that included an improved bar, lobby and new furniture.

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