Construction of health and wellness center could begin this spring

Spring is just around the corner and so is the impending construction of Sabetha Health and Wellness Center. The Center will be operated, managed and maintained by Sabetha Community Hospital (SCH).

At the Sept. 11, 2017, meeting of the Sabetha City Commission, commissioners approved an agreement with SCH for a Health and Wellness Center to be constructed and managed by SCH, using funds already raised by the Sabetha Health and Wellness Committee (SHWC). The Center would be located on the SCH facility campus at 14th Street and Oregon Street on property that is owned by the City of Sabetha.

As of Friday, March 2, Sabetha City Administrator Doug Allen said design plans for the Center are in progress and it is hoped that the plans will be complete by the first part of April. The expected opening date is six to nine months after construction begins.

“In a perfect world, we could start construction by the end of May,” Allen said, adding that dirt work could begin in April if everything goes as planned.

But the beginning of construction is dependent on the design plan falling at or below the $2.1 million budget for the project.

Center History

In 2008, the SHWC was organized with the purpose of researching, promoting, securing funding and successfully operating a private fitness center.

Throughout the years, various designs and locations have been selected for the Center — none of which seemed to fit. Prior to the newest location at 14th and Oregon, the City Commission approved deeding the Midtown Building and land to the SHWC for the purpose of constructing the then proposed 25,555 square foot fitness facility. This option included the demolition of the Midtown Building, with the city assuming the demolition costs.

In February 2017, select members of the SHWC board met with Sabetha City Commissioner Norm Schmitt — as a member of the City of Sabetha governing body — to initiate discussions on how to utilize the plan and funds to not only facilitate the building of the Health and Wellness Center, but also to ensure that it created a widespread positive impact for the entire community. It was during those discussions that the decision was made to partner with SCH.

Agreement between hospital and City

The agreement includes details about the location, construction and management of the Center.

Location

• The Center will be located on the SCH facility campus at 14th Street and Oregon Street on real property that is owned by the City of Sabetha.

• SCH will lease the property from the City.

Construction

• The City will own the Center and will construct the facility using funds the SHWC already has raised through donations. Funds raised by the SHWC will pay for the construction of the Center and purchase of equipment. Approximately $2.1 million of these funds are budgeted for the construction of the Center. Per the agreement, the Center is to be designed to coincide with that amount or lower. Funds in excess of the $2.1 million will be used toward the purchase of equipment. It is hoped that additional funds also will be raised to help offset the cost of equipment.

• The SHWC agreed to “turn those funds over” to the City of Sabetha. The City and the SHWC signed an agreement solidifying this arrangement. Currently, the SHWC is actively fundraising for the addition of endless pools to the facility. City Administrator Allen said the city is obtaining quotes for that addition so that in the event the SHWC raises the funds, this can be worked into the plan.

Management

• SCH has been contracted by the City to manage, operate and maintain the Center. The City and SCH have signed a Management Agreement, which includes that SCH will hire a facility director to market the Center prior to its opening.

Allen said he expected someone would be hired to fill this position shortly after construction begins.

Hospital CEO Lora Key confirmed that SCH will begin advertising for a facility director within the next several weeks.

“I know there are many qualified candidates within the community, and SCH is excited about the potential of the facility director,” Key said.

The facility director will be charged with marketing and promoting the facility, but also to build programs that will add a health and wellness aspect to the center.

“The fact that the Health and Wellness Center will sit on the hospital campus will bring additional opportunities in promoting good health within the community and industries,” Key said. “I foresee the facility director being a key person in building those cornerstones of health.”

• SCH will manage all operations, including access to health equipment, implementation of membership programs and guidelines and implementation of health, fitness and nutrition classes.

• The City will pay SCH a management fee and during the start-up phase of the facility shall reimburse SCH for expenses and related start-up costs until such time that the Center becomes profitable. Once profitable, the City will no longer pay a management fee. It is estimated that the Center would be profitable within two to three years. Since the Center would be constructed at or under the $2.1 million budget, there would be no debt on the physical building.

The management fee is estimated to be $10,000 per month for the first year, decreasing to $5,000 per month in subsequent years. The start-up cost for the Center will include hiring of an employee to begin marketing the Center.

Start-up costs and the monthly management fee will be paid out of city reserve funds.

Krista Wasinger70 Posts

Krista Wasinger is Co-Editor of The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2011. She specializes in city reporting and feature stories, as well as photography and page and advertising design. Krista is a 2004 Fort Hays State University graduate with a degree in communications studies with an emphasis in journalism. She lives in Sabetha with her husband and four children.

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