Chippewa County Montevideo Hospital CEO Brian Lovdahl outlined his vision for a CCMH-owned community health club before a joint meeting of the Montevideo City Council and Chippewa County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday evening in the EMS Training Center. The proposed club would be located in the old Coborn’s building along Highway 7 in Montevideo.
Approval from both the City Council and the County Board is necessary before moving forward with the $750,000 purchase agreement. If approved, Lovdahl expects the facility would be open by December 2019.
Lovdahl asked in his opening remarks: “What if you could live a better, more fulfilling, and longer life by living in Montevideo? That really is what today is about. Right now in our community we are facing a health crisis.”
According to data from Countryside Public Health, 72.3% of adults in the CCMH service area are overweight or obese. 74% of adults do not get at least 20 minutes of exercise, 3 days a week. In a recent survey, area residents listed the cost of gym memberships and fitness programs as the greatest barrier to physical activity.
Lovdahl said the proposed club would offer a sliding-scale membership fee to accommodate low-income residents. In addition to a walking track, fitness equipment and sports courts, the 34,500-square-foot facility would also include a health bar, a childcare area, a community meeting room, and leasable office space.
(Additionally, the City of Montevideo is in talks with the school district about construction of a new joint community/school pool in an adjacent facility. Both the outdoor pool and the school pool are “nearing end-of-life,” according to Superintendent Dr. Luther Heller. CCMH would not be involved in the funding/construction of this additional facility.)
The total estimated project cost (purchase plus renovation) is $3,050,000. To finance the project, CCMH would draw from a $18,000,000 fund that can only be used for equipment and building purchases. With 1,000 members, Lovdahl says the facility would be profitable by the end of the first full year of business. If the membership rate remained stable at around 1,000, CCMH would break even on the investment in about nine years.
Several community members were present at the meeting, and many expressed enthusiastic support for the project. Local business owner Kevin Wald expressed doubts about the financial feasibility of the project, and concerns that project could hurt local competitors in the private sector. He encouraged the City Council and the County Board to “slow down” and allow more time for debate.
Both the Montevideo City Council and the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners voted to table the issue until more feedback has been received from the community.
Discussion of the proposed facility will continue at a community meeting on Monday, April 22 at 7pm at the Montevideo Community Center.