EASTHAM — A final inspection by the town’s health, fire, and building depts., scheduled for Wednesday, June 10, could lead to the reopening of Willy’s World and Conference Center, which is owned and operated by Barbara Niggel.
Eastham Building Commissioner Tom Wingard told the Independent that if the gym cleared this final hurdle, it would receive certificates of inspection and authenticity, and be able to reopen when Gov. Charlie Baker allows gyms to do so.
Gyms and fitness centers are set to reopen in phase three of the state’s reopening plan, according to mass.gov.
“All the work that we requested and needed to have done has been done,” Wingard said last week. It’s just a matter of completing the inspection that remains as the final stage. We’re hopeful,” he said.
Willy’s was temporarily shut down on Dec. 12, 2019, because of numerous health and safety violations.
Wingard’s notice posted outside the gym then read: “The structure has been inspected and is unsafe to occupy as described below: life safety concerns, numerous violations, including work without permits, failure to maintain equipment, etc.”
The Independent reported in January that four weeks before Wingard’s action, on Nov. 14, the fire dept. came to Willy’s after a gym member told an employee there was smoke in a back hallway by the locker room, according to Town Administrator Jacqui Beebe. Fire officials found light smoke in a utility room and a strong electrical smell, along with an improperly vented gas heater in the sauna-hot tub area and multiple electric space heaters all over the building. They ordered them removed.
It was also reported that a holiday party was held inside Willy’s on Dec. 7. Videos of the party on social media revealed an exit door blocked by exercise equipment pushed to the wall.
Since the gym’s closing, Niggel has sent numerous emails to its members informing them of progress toward compliance with the town’s orders.
In a March 25 email to members Niggel listed 20 improvements that had been made to the gym, including a new sprinkler system, new fire panel, new LED lighting in tennis and turf areas, and new heating and air conditioning throughout the building.
“I’ve heard it’s been great work done,” Wingard said.
“During the months Willy’s was closed, I have worked diligently to produce the best club on the Cape,” Niggel wrote in a May 19 email to members. “The club has been totally overhauled with new lights and newly resurfaced and painted courts for tennis and pickleball, new gym equipment, etc. (we will send a full list under separate cover) and many safety and health features. I have composed a manual that explicitly details the new guidelines to be implemented. At a later date, you will receive this under separate cover. The club is now a reality! But the ‘new reality’ is that I cannot open as soon as expected.”