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City council looks at proposed plans for wellness center

The Wadena city council held a special meeting Wednesday, Jan. 18 to mull over proposed wellness center plans with Michael Brandt of Perkins + Will, Chad Rettke of Kraus Anderson, WDC school board chair Ann Pate and a conference call with Jeff King of Ballard-King.

The council took action to approve naming rights for private fundraising, where contributors donate a certain amount to be able to name a part of the proposed wellness center. Components range from $100,000 to $1,000,000 and include the facility in general, the aquatics area, the gymnasium, the warm water therapy pool, the open fitness area, the community meeting room and kitchen, the fitness classroom, two racquetball courts, the walkway and the childcare room.

In the discussion, it was conceded that the wellness center would not have the budget to construct the walkway between the wellness center and the school - that part of the project would have to be delayed.

Diagrams for the wellness center showed the recreational area of the pool and a two-lane lap swimming area divided by a walkway. The council asked them to replace the walkway barrier with a third lane to meet the needs of swimmers.

Brandt said that the walkway barrier is a typical part of design because lap swimmers don't like kids splashing on them.

Mayor Wayne Wolden and council member Don Niles said that in Wadena, lap swimmers and splashing kids are in the pool at different times of the day - and if they are there at the same time, the lap swimmers tend to put up with it.

Council member Jeanette Baymler said the pool design gives no option for a swim team in the future.

Council member Toby Pierce said that with declining enrollment, the school district will be challenged to retain the sports they have, let alone add new sports.

During the conference call, King said the budget he estimates is a tool to help the council, and he has no bias. The city has a lower estimate of the budget than Ballard-King does.

A big part of the budget is staff. King said that with the level of responsibility lifeguards have, the city should not count on finding good lifeguards all year at minimum wage levels.

King also discussed how to estimate the level of participation in the wellness center if and when it is built. He said that some people will not have the discretionary income to get a membership, and of the remaining market, about 15 percent of the population participates in exercise activities like swimming on a regular basis.