THOUGH THEY HAD little impact on the final vote, the objections of two Columbia Council members to plans for a $6 million health club in the Village of River Hill had merit. With Howard County officials scrambling for cash, talking about tax hikes or garbage collection fees, it sometimes seems incongruous that Columbia would be considering ways to get deeper into debt. Columbia Association members Roy T. Lyons of Long Reach and Norma Rose of Wilde Lake simply wanted to know if the proposed health club would really be in the best interest of the planned community's residents.
The health club's supporters believe it will, in part because of county government's financial worries. The county is trying to figure out how to make its dollars stretch to provide more recreational opportunities for residents. The health club's proponents are counting on it and other Columbia facilities filling the void. They expect 32 percent of the club's users to be non-Columbia residents by the year 2001 and for that to increase to 37 percent by 2006. If their estimates are correct, the health club will have generated $4.1 million in profits by then. That's money the association can then use to pay for other needs in Columbia.