LEWISTON — The city’s popular gymnastics program will live on without a cost increase to parents for at least two years, councilors agreed Tuesday night.

City councilors decided to spin the Recreation Department’s gymnastics program off and give control to the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA.

That group will preserve the program as is, leaving the program schedule in place and keeping it in Lewiston’s Memorial Armory for the time being.

City budget cuts had eliminated maintenance staff tasked with setting up the program’s equipment and city officials said the city could no longer afford to operate the program as it was.

“We are happy to report that the pricing structure that was in place last year is frozen for the next two years, with an option for a third year,” Phil Nadeau, Lewiston’s deputy city administrator, said.

The city has offered two gymnastics programs each year, a September-to-July program followed by a July summer camp. Last year, it drew in 281 gymnasts, ranging from 3½ to 17 years old.

The cost is $45 for Lewiston resident gymnasts ages 3½ to 9, and $65 for nonresidents. Team rates are $65 to $90 for Lewiston resident team gymnasts and $85 and $110 for nonresident team gymnasts.

The program shares the armory’s floor space with other city programs — basketball, volleyball and social groups. The gymnastics equipment takes up the entire floor area and must be put away and removed each time to make room for those other groups.

City staff have done that work so far, but councilors eliminated four maintenance positions in the city’s 2014-15 budget.

That left 4.5 full-time employees to handle all maintenance matters at all city buildings, including the armory, City Hall, the Lewiston Public Library, the Police Station and all of the city’s parking garages.

Nadeau said the city was working with coach Dyane Jordan and Steven Wallace of the YMCA to take over that maintenance work and preserve program.

Members of the team, their parents and members of other Maine gymnastic groups attended the council’s previous meeting to show their support, saying the program was essential for building an athlete’s character and confidence.

City Councilor Mark Cayer said Tuesday that testimony helped.

“We’ve had a difficult budget time and this was on the table,” Cayer said. “But for me, the passionate presentation by the gymnasts really made a difference. So it just goes to show that involvement in civic activity really does help.”

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