Backers of a plan to create a new Forgotten Coast Fitness and Wellness Center in the former Apalachicola High School are hoping to open the new facility by next month.

The non-profit venture arose after the closure in January of the Apalachicola Fitness Center, which was housed at 45 Avenue D until the building sold to the owners of Papa Joe’s Restaurant, which plan to relocate there shortly.

Ed Aguiar, a member of the proposed center’s board of directors along with Henry Kozlowsky, Gary Niblack, Sarah Madson and Jan Thomas, said organizers are working on collecting dues from the original 54 people who committed to pre-paid annual memberships.

“Our plan is to recognize this group as ‘the founding members’ and they will be honored as such,” said Aguiar. “As of this past weekend, 20 of the 54 commitments for per-paid annual memberships have been collected and when successful, this will secure the success of the new center.”

Members are being asked to pay for a one-year membership of $420, a six-month membership of $210, a three-month membership of $105, or a monthly membership of $35.

“Our goal is to have all funds collected and deposited by Monday, March 17,” said Thomas. “This will allow us to schedule construction and installation of our own entryway door with keyless entry for members and to get started on improvements to the space. We have all our approvals with the city of Apalachicola and Franklin's Promise Coalition in place and will execute our lease this week.”

Thomas said improvements include creating a pass-through that joins two former classrooms to create a larger space, installing carpeting, and replacing whiteboards with mirrors and paint.

The idea is to acquire the most popular pieces of equipment from the now-shuttered center, and relocate them to the municipal complex at 192 14th Street. Members would have exclusive 24-hour access with member keys.

Thomas said that while the target date for opening is Monday, March 31, “the sooner we collect money, the sooner we open.”

Organizers plan to provide space for April Patriotis to continue aerobic and kickboxing classes. Eric Olson would also be available as a personal trainer.

For more info, call or email Jan Thomas with questions 653-1068 or