First input session held for proposed Clear Lake wellness center

CLEAR LAKE — The first of three public input sessions about a proposed health and wellness center to be constructed at Clear Lake High School took place last night. City and school officials have been exploring the concept of working jointly to construct the center on the south side of the high school gymnasium. Concepts for the center include additional gym space, a meeting space for seniors, space for exercise classes and an indoor swimming pool.

Clear Lake Community School District superintendent Doug Gee says he was pleased with the first session.  “For a first meeting it was really good. Our whole goal of this whole things is that we need the community for this thing, this project to go. To gather as much input as we can and just gauge from community wanted is there a need, and too, what would they like to have in a facility like this.”

Gee says one of the biggest concerns is there’s a lack of available gymnasium space for practices, especially during the winter months.  “We’ve got kids to practice 6:00 in the morning and up until 8:00 or 9:00 at night. We have times where they can’t get gym space and  need to practice. We have ever growing youth programs that are trying to go to Mason City to the YMCA or other places, and they can’t get space. We have Park and Rec programs that want to use our gym space, but we have to have our practices, so it is definitely a strain on our facilities.”

Gee says there were many suggestions from last night’s meeting that they’ll explore.  “I think the big thing for us is the other gym space, you know having three or four different in other courts. I think some type of a track is definitely a feasible thing and something that is needed. I think some type of a possible turf type area for indoor soccer, indoor football, indoor type things, hitting-batting type facility it is really unique.”

One of the things that is being explored is an indoor pool. Gee says there’s a number of factors with that including the costs of maintaining such a facility.   “The pool is very intriguing, it’s just a matter of the feasibility of something like that in Clear Lake. Is it something that would be really nice to have and Clear Lake, and especially in the wintertime? Absolutely, but we just have got to take a look and say ‘okay can we afford it, and can we afford the ongoing costs of it’. The other major concern probably more than any right now is staffing it. It’s really hard to find lifeguards in the summertime let alone in the winter time.”

Two more input meetings are scheduled for this month, the next being next Wednesday night at 6:30 in the Clear Lake Middle School cafeteria. The final input session will be Monday September 23rd in the Lakeview Room of City Park at 7:30 AM. Gee says after those meetings, they’ll look at the input and hold a work session with the school board to see what the next step will be. A possible bond issue vote on any project would be held on March 3rd.