Lincoln Park gym shuttered; citations issued after business continued

James David Dickson
The Detroit News
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Lincoln Park — A gym in Lincoln Park was shuttered by city officials enforcing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's continued ban on gym operations during the COVID-19 outbreak, and it was a commenter at a recent City Council meeting who brought the gym to the city's attention.

Raise The Bar Gym on Fort Street closed Wednesday, but got on the city's radar on Monday, and was given a warning on Tuesday.

Mayor Tom Karnes said the city "wasn't aware" of the gym's operation until a person asked about it during the public comment portion of its Monday meeting.

Lincoln Park posted a "do not occupy" notice on a gym that was allegedly open Wednesday.

Despite the proximity of the gym and the police department, which are less than a half-mile apart, Karnes said "our officers have been busy" and "that has not been our top priority."

"But when it's brought to our attention, we take action," said Karnes, formerly the city's police chief. 

The gym itself was easy enough to check out, Karnes said. People could be spotted working out through its windows.

On Tuesday, officers stopped by the gym and advised it was in violation of the executive order banning gym operations and had to close. Police issued a warning that they would write tickets if the gym stayed open, Karnes said.

On Wednesday, police returned and saw cars in the parking lot and people inside. They wrote citations to the roughly "10 to 12" patrons and the gym's owner, while the city's building department ordered the gym shuttered, Karnes said.

Raise the Bar Gym in Lincoln Park

On its Facebook page, the gym told members they will still be charged for July to keep itself afloat with no known end date to the closure order. The post was made, and publicly available, on Wednesday night, but has since been removed from public view.

"I don't agree with everything" the governor has ordered, Karnes said. "But when the order is out, it's not up to me to pick and choose who can break the rules. Is it fair that people playing by the rules stay closed while these folks are doing their own thing?"

Karnes said Lincoln Park has been hit hard by COVID-19, with 30 deaths and more than 300 cases. 

"This is not something we can goof around with," Karnes said.

Gyms in Michigan had a sliver of hope for reopening when a federal judge in Grand Rapids, Paul Maloney, ruled in mid-June that gyms the governor ordered closed would be allowed to open the next week.

More:Federal judge orders Michigan gyms reopened June 25; Whitmer to appeal

But the state was granted a stay by a federal appeals panel, meaning the executive order — and not the judge's ruling — would remain in effect as the case is decided. Gyms remain under the closure order.

More:U.S. Appeals Court keeps Michigan gyms closed with emergency stay

The gyms that sued to reopen have indicated a willingness to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Lincoln Park Police Department and gym owners did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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