CLEAR LAKE — Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Tuesday for the new recreation and wellness center in Clear Lake. The $10.6 million, 81,000-square foot facility is being constructed on the south side of the high school campus after voters approved an $18 million bond issue last spring for the center as well as improvements to Lions Field, Clear Creek Elementary and E. B. Stillman Auditorium.
Through an intergovernmental agreement, the school would own the center and lease it to the city for at least a 25-year period. The city would be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the center with the school having priority usage for practice times, educational courses, or programs for various portions of the facility.
Mayor Nelson Crabb says once completed, it will be a facility that all Clear Lake residents can enjoy. “It will be a great community development as we all look at it here anyway. It won’t be just school, it won’t be just city, but it will be a combination. It will be all of those of us in the city will be able to take part with it. It won’t be just for the high school kids, or just for the middle school kids, but families as well.”
Crabb says other north-central Iowa communities have partnered with school districts in creating centers like this. “You can go to Sheffield, you can go to Hampton. All of these communities now are concerned about the health and wellness of their citizens and have seemed to do a center much like this. We’re very pleased to get on board with that. All of our residents, all of our citizens I think will benefit, if they choose, from this wellness center.”
Superintendent Doug Gee says partnering with the city on the wellness center project has been a win-win situation for both sides. “When we approached them over a year ago to even ask if this was a possibility and they said absolutely. We really started getting into the nitty gritty of the planning about this time a year ago. Just to have that ability to have the land, and the school have the ability to build it financially without raising taxes, and then for the city to run it. There’s not a lot of schools and cities in the state that do that and can get along well enough to do it, but in a community like this, and this size, you need to work together.”
Gee says it’s been a great partnership with the city on the project. “It’s been fun to work with them and I think everybody in the city, in the community and in the school district are all excited for that facility.”
The center includes an indoor track, basketball and volleyball courts, a fitness center, an expansion of the high school’s weight room and wrestling room, three multipurpose studios and an indoor playground. The project is scheduled to be completed in December of next year.