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Community Center details unveiled

The Sun of Mount Vernon, Iowa

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Pool, gym, track estimated at $6 million



Mount Vernon community center supporters are advocating for a facility that includes everything from gym space to a pool to a running track, with an estimated price tag of $6 million. Meeting/banquet spaces are now not part of the plan.

The city's official Community Center Committee has released a project review of the proposed facility dubbed a wellness center. For at least a dozen years, such a project has been discussed in Mount Vernon. Already, the council earmarked $400,000 generated from a previous Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) for the project. And last year, voters approved a 20-year (LOST) extension with 25 percent of the revenues dedicated to a community center.

Committee member Deb Herrmann presented the city council with the latest report last week.

Key stakeholders are identified as the City of Mount Vernon, the Parks and Recreation Board, Cornell College, Mount Vernon Community Schools, the Y of Linn County (formerly known as the YMCA), and the general citizenry of Mount Vernon and possibly other communities such as Lisbon.

The proposed facility would be extensive. The indoor fitness center would provide weights and cardio equipment. The track for walking and running would be a minimum of an eighth of a mile. Two full-sized basketball courts would be available for recreation and competition. The indoor pool would have two sections, a competitive swimming area with at least six lanes and a separate play space pool with a zero grade entry. Locker space would be provided.

The facility is expected to need at least two acres of land, with parking lots. Ideally, Herrmann said, it would be within easy walking distance from both Mount Vernon schools and the Cornell campus. Bonding would be considered only after a capital campaign that includes donations and grants would be completed. "It's important that everyone have access to the facility," said Herrmann.

Organized opportunities for student competition are proposed, as are recreational events and classes for all ages. Mount Vernon schools would be able to use the pool for PE classes and swimming lessons.

According to council member Slaton Anthony, after much discussion the committee decided to not include some of services already offered by other businesses in the area.

"We deliberately left out meeting spaces, a banquet facility, a kitchen, and so forth," he said. "We did not want to compete with others in the area."

"I formally recommend that the city engage the services of the Y," said Herrmann.

The Y has access to consultants that have been used elsewhere to make key determinations, such as how many memberships would be required to operate the facility, and what membership fees ought to be.

The city council did not vote on the recommendation.

Original Publication Date: January 19, 2012



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