Concepts shared for DeWitt's future health and fitness center

DEWITT — DeWitt city and school officials got their first look at ideas for a joint health and fitness center at an informational meeting last week.

The conceptual plan was put together by IBIS Enterprises, LLC, of Pittsboro, North Carolina, the firm the city and school district hired late last year to do a needs-analysis survey for $20,000.

The health-centered marketing company conducted interviews with more than three dozen potential partners and analyzed demographic information and market research before putting together the plan for a center that would have several partners, including the city, school district and health care providers.

“It’s important to remember this is conceptual,” IBIS President Donna Jarmusz said of the plan.

The plan is based on what amenities the people surveyed said they would like to see in such a facility, and it is not necessarily everything that would be included if a project moves forward at some point, she noted.

City Manager Steve Lindner said there is no firm timeline for a health and fitness center timeline.

“We’re starting with a fairly broad idea,” he said.

The conceptual plan as it stands is about a $25 million project, with construction and other costs estimated on the high end, Jarmusz noted. Both she and Lindner explained that the plan is a starting point for discussions about what such a center might look like.

“This gives us a more defined look at what all the things people said they would like to see in a center would cost,” Lindner said. “It gives us the ability to prioritize and see what kind of dollars are available. It helps with planning to have some basis as a starting point.”

Among the features in the conceptual plan were an indoor competitive 25-meter lap pool with eight lanes and retractable bleachers; men’s, women’s, boys’ and girls’ lockers rooms; a warm-water therapy pool; a whirlpool; a golf simulator; a racquet ball court; a full-size high school basketball floor; and a “grab-and-go” café.

The conceptual design also includes a year-round “bubble” building, an air-inflated structure often used for sports activities, which would be heated and cooled. The plan shows a 200-meter, six-lane track with open turf in the center, batting cages, two pickle ball courts and retractable bleachers.

The center, which would be located somewhere on ground owned by the school district, would replace the current aging DeWitt Fitness Center and expand the scope of the facility to include health and wellness.

“The concept is to integrate health care with the fitness center,” Jarmusz said.

The school district currently partners with Genesis Health System on some programs, while the city partners with Rock Valley Physical Therapy at its current recreation center. IBIS spoke with both of those providers in its initial analysis.

Now that they’ve seen the initial concept, both the school board and the city council will vote on proceeding with phase two of the project with IBIS. Phase two would “refine the information in phase one,” Jarmusz said. It would include the firm getting a commitment from healthcare providers, settling on a final location, modifying and tweaking the design, determining the scale of the project at a cost the community can bear, creating a timeline and educating the public.

The cost for phase two is $20,000. The city has already earmarked $10,000 in its budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Both the city and the school district will take action on moving forward with phase two at future meetings.