City, school consider wellness center

(Above) A conceptual view of the possible addition of a wellness center to the south side of Clear Lake High School.

by Marianne Gasaway

The Clear Lake School District and City are considering construction of a community health and wellness center.

Although no firm plans have been developed, school and city leaders say they believe the time is right to work together to create a community asset which will provide residents with recreational activities year-round.

“Clear Lake is a tremendous community in the summer, with a lot of outdoor recreation, but we struggle a little bit providing families, youngsters and seniors with space for activities from Thanksgiving to April,” said City Administrator Scott Flory.  “We have no indoor playgrounds or splash pads.  Families have to go somewhere else for something like that.”

Superintendent Doug Gee first approached Flory and Mayor Nelson Crabb a few months ago to gauge their interest in joining forces for a project that would not only benefit students, but all ages in the community.

Gee noted gymnasium space and training facilities are in short supply for the number of activities the school district sponsors. In addition, the City’s Parks and Recreation Department also tries to schedule activities in school gymnasiums, adding to the scheduling load.

The sharing idea received a positive response from the City, especially because several key pieces of such a project are already in place.  That includes the location— school owned property immediately south of the high school wrestling room, weight room and gymnasium.  In addition, infrastructure is already in place, the site is centrally located, and there is a parking lot which could be re-worked to accommodate both school and public traffic.

“We like the location and with no added land acquisition costs we think there are economies of scale which could benefit both the city and school district,” said Flory.

“The City sees a health and wellness center as a ‘need,’ not a ‘want.’  We feel it is an asset which will help businesses  attract and keep families in the community.”

Although leadership from both sides favor pursuing the concept, Flory and Gee both said it is important to have public sentiment support the idea.

Both entities would require a bond referendum for the project.  Sixty percent voter approval is needed.

“We are interested to get public reaction to this idea.  At this point we haven’t gone too far in an exploratory phase.  A group of about 15 persons has shared their ideas.  Now, we would like to get community input as to what features the public would like to see in a wellness center,” said Gee.  A walking track, gymnasium space, senior meeting and classroom spaces, and a swimming pool are some of the ideas which have been brought forward, he added.

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