Those in the Jacksonville community surrounding Edward Waters University will be able to enjoy its new fitness center thanks to a donation from the city of Jacksonville! Get the full story from the David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union below.

(Credit: Bob Mack/Florida Times-Union)

Edward Waters University will add a new fitness center to its campus by using $500,000 from the city of Jacksonville for workout space that also will be open to neighborhood residents during some weekday hours.

Residents would not pay any charge to use the fitness center for at least five years. Edward Waters then could charge an unspecified “nominal fee” for the next five years of the agreement.

City Council President Sam Newby said the fitness center expands on other city-school partnerships with Edward Waters such as the New Town Success Zone and the Schell-Sweet Community Resource Center.

“I think this will be the third and final leg in making this community more safe and more healthy,” Newby said.

Newby, who is a graduate of the college, introduced the legislation. City Council unanimously approved it Tuesday.

The fitness center would be used by students, faculty and staff of Edward Waters. It would be open to the public for at least 20 hours a week, giving residents of the surrounding New Town neighborhood and a broader area of northwest Jacksonville a place to work out.

The hours for the public would be 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center would be closed on weekends.

The closest fitness center to the university is the Winston Family YMCA about two miles away in the Brooklyn neighborhood of downtown. The Johnson Family YMCA is about 3.5 miles away from the university.

Edward Waters would use the $500,000 to renovate the cafeteria of its James Weldon Johnson Building on West Ninth Street and purchase exercise equipment. The college would be responsible for staffing the fitness center and maintaining the equipment.

The city provided $8.4 million in 2017 to Edward Waters for constructing an athletic field used for the school’s football games and renovating student dormitories.

Edward Waters has said the football field will be open to the community by giving resident access to a walking track around the field and having youth football games on the field.