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Three plans emerge for wellness center

State Representative Larry Howes and Committee Administrator Tom Freeman are scheduled to visit Wadena Monday morning 9:45 a.m. to discuss the 2012 bonding bill application with city officials, and the Wadena City Council discussed wellness center options during the Tuesday regular meeting and later on a Thursday morning special meeting.

Architects Perkins + Will communicated three different options for reducing the price of the $19.5 million wellness center.

Option 1 at $14.2 million would reduce the area of the building 20 percent while including all the amenities.

Option 2 at $8.55 million would exclude the ice arena, reducing area by 53 percent.

Option 3 at $12.6 million would exclude the gymnasium, reducing area by 31 percent.

All three options assume the cost to be reduced by 8 percent from lesser quality building systems and finishes than originally planned, and all three also retain an indoor swimming pool, indoor warm water thereapy pool, locker rooms, fitness space, common area facilities and office and support space.

Council member Kay Browne said that she was inclined to go with Option 2, since it was the least expensive and people would be more comfortable with asking for a lower match percentage. She also said that the hockey program has not asked for an expensive facility.

The Hockey Association has a building under construction on top of the original community center ice rink in order to play indoors for the upcoming winter season.

During the Thursday meeting, Browne also said that Option 2 was inexpensive enough so that if the city does not get funded in bonding, it could be possible to build the project on their own.

City Administrator Brad Swenson said that when Representative Mark Murdock called, he asked if the city had done any private fundraising for the wellness center project and was disappointed that no major private fundraising had taken place.

Council member Don Niles said that the issue was not whether Wadena would be included or exluded in the bonding bill for asking too much from the Legislature, but whether there would be a bonding bill, period.

Council member Toby Pierce said the school had received the OK from FEMA on another gym, and questioned whether another gym was needed in the wellness center.

Browne said that it would be nice to have a gym accessible to the public on weekends.

During the Thursday special meeting, council members discussed how they would present to the visiting state legislators in the half hour time frame.

Browne and acting mayor Jeanette Baymler said that the warm water therapy pool was important to the project and would be a unique amenity. The nearest warm water therapy pools are in Fargo and St. Cloud.

The wellness center is the first priority, but a southeast sewer infrastructure project is the second priority for bonding, and there would be time made in the presentation for that project as well.

Swenson said that the city was asking for bonding for the southeast infrastructure project because the Wadena community could not afford to be taxed for the amount of money it would take to complete the project.