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While much attention has been paid in recent months to a proposal for a new wellness facility in Mount Ayr, it may come as a surprise to some that proposals for such a facility are nothing new.
In fact, a front-page article in the April 26, 1996 Record-News reported on a public meeting held that week that provided conceptual drawings, floor plans and cost estimates for a “Community Recreation Center.”
Conducting the meeting were Ringgold County Development coordinator Shaun Hayse (now Shaun Kniep); Paul Boysen, grant writer for the Mount Ayr schools and a consortium of local school districts; Jason Reynolds, member of the committee of residents exploring the idea of a recreation center; and architects Michael Benck and Roger Krhounek.
The meeting, which attracted 55 community members, shared plans for two potential facilities.
The first proposal was for a stand-alone building consisting of a gymnasium surrounded by a walking track, racquetball courts, aerobics/multi-purpose room, a senior center, a child care room, a kitchen, locker rooms, and a “future pool.”
The second plan proposed combining a recreation facility with a child care facility to be located at the site of the current Family Resource Center. This facility would include all the amenities of the first plan but with the addition of more space devoted to daycare, pre-school, and Head Start.
One main advantage cited for the second proposal was the multi-generational interaction between young children and senior citizens.
Both facilities were estimated at 20,000 square feet with about a city block devoted to parking.
Back in 1996, cost estimates ranged from $1.5 million for the stand-alone facility and $2.1 million for the recreation/child care facility.
[It should be noted $1.5 million in 1996 is estimated to equal $2.45 million in today’s dollars.]
If included with either facility, a swimming pool would add another $700,000 [$1.14 million in today’s dollars].
Operating costs for both facilities were estimated at $80,000-90,000 [$130,000 – $150,000 in today’s dollars].
Boysen explained funding for such a project would likely need to come from private rather than public sources, due to public funds already exhausted to meet other needs.
He said grants could supply 50-55 percent of the necessary funding with the balance needing to come from private contributions.
One source of these contributions would come from $200 family memberships. Organizers back then estimated interest in between 200-300 such memberships.
A Rinngold County Foundation had been set up to receive other tax-deductible contributions.
Organizers presented three possible locations for the new facility:
1) as mentioned, at the site of the current Family Resource Center at the corner of Jefferson and Lincoln streets;
2) near the school bus barn;
3) in Judge Lewis Park.
It was noted that a proposal to enclose the existing swimming pool had been studied, but the project was considered unfeasible from financial and construction standpoints.
Those in attendance at that meeting in 1996 were encouraged to fill out a questionnaire stating their preferences for amenities in a new facility.
A clip-out questionnaire was also included in that week’s newspaper.
If consensus could be reached on amenities and initial funding secured, organizers said the project could get underway sometime in the spring of 1997.
The article said committee members had visited other similar facilities, including the rec center in Creston (later to become the YMCA) and the Lied Center in Clarinda.
Besides Hayse, Reynolds and Boysen, the article named other members of the organizing committee as Mitzi Hymbaugh, Rick Hawkins, Max Anderson, Kelly Main, Jean Yearous, Amy Hynek, Joel Beck, Lindsay Comer, Jack Cook, Brad Elliott, Dick Elliott, Amy Shields, Mark Budach and Mark Larsen.