Friday, December 23, 2005

Fitness center proposed for Community Campus

Facility would replace old high school's locker rooms

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Recreation District operates a number of activities at the Community Campus in Hailey. Members of a girls' basketball team practice in the main athletic gymnasium at the Community Campus Wednesday afternoon. The district has proposed to build a 3,000-square-foot fitness center at the site of the building's former locker rooms, which are currently being used for storage. Photo by David N. Seelig

Sometime later this fall, residents of Hailey and the surrounding areas may have a brand new 3,000-square-foot fitness center to call their own.

The proposed fitness facility would be located at the Community Campus, at the site of the old Wood River High School men's and women's locker rooms, officials with the Blaine County Recreation District said. The district currently uses the locker rooms for storage.

If built, the facility would have free weights, cardio equipment and circuit training equipment, said Dave Keir, the district's program director. The facility would likely be open seven days a week and would have a common area where fitness classes including yoga, pilates and spinning could take place, he said.

The facility, Keir said, would be "a fitness center people come in and use daily." Details such as the hours of operation and membership fees haven't been finalized yet, but planners envision the facility as being open and affordable to all, he said.

"A facility anyone would use," Keir said. "It's not going to be extravagant, but it's going to meet the need."

Hailey's residents have long shown support for a fitness facility somewhere in the city, he said.

The locker rooms at the Community Campus—which are adjacent to the main athletic gymnasium—are a perfect location for such a facility, Keir said. "The space lends itself to a fitness facility," he said.

All that's needed to get the fitness center up and running, Keir said, is demolition and remodeling work. "It's all here in front of us, we just need to do a few things," he said.

The district must also find the necessary funding, Keir added. "Funding is always the key, he said.

The fitness center idea has been pitched to the recreation district's three-member recreation board, which will have the final say on the request, Keir said. They've shown support for the concept and have asked for a more detailed business plan showing the estimated costs and the potential return on investment, he said.

"They're going to tell us what the next step is," Keir said.

The center's estimated $250,000 startup cost—which includes construction and initial operational expenses—would likely be covered by grants and private donations, he said. Membership dues would cover future operational expenses, including staffing, he said.

Because completing the fitness center would require a certain amount of structural modifications, the recreation district would have to gain the approval of the city, Keir said.

He said the new fitness facility would act as an anchor for the Community Campus, drawing larger numbers of residents for the variety of programs held in the building.

The Community Campus is a partnership between the Blaine County School District, the Blaine County Recreation District and the College of Southern Idaho. The program provides space to CSI for use as classrooms and to the recreation district for its recreation programs. The Blaine County School District also conducts classes at the Community Campus for its "school to work" program.

The offices and activities of the Blaine County Recreation District utilize a third of the entire Community Campus.

The Community Campus also houses after-school youth activities, an Internet Café, offices of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce and space for Wood River Gymnastics and the Footlight Dance Centre.

With so many programs happening at once, the Community Campus has really become a center for community activities, Keir said. A fitness center will only add to the site's importance, he said.

"It would take this building to its full potential," he said. "We're just growing in the building."

Keir said the new fitness center probably wouldn't compete with the future Wood River Community YMCA in Ketchum. The two facilities would offer different options to different people, he said.

Hailey currently has few fitness options, Keir said. "We anticipate that we would do well down here," he said.

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