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While still in the early planning stages, Kent is looking into building a 90,000-square-foot health and wellness center at a cost of $18 million to $23 million.
"We are sharpening our pencils with figuring out the cost for such a facility," said John Idone, Kent Parks and Recreation Director. "The city has hired a financial adviser to scrutinize all costs. We're going to be doing a study over the next six weeks, with the hope to give (Kent City Council) more information sometime in May."
Idone said the plan is to look into grants and also focus on other ways the price can be brought down. According to city documents, capital costs may be funded through a voter-approved bond issue, anticipated to cost the average homeowner $80 to $100 per year. Operating costs may be funded through user fees, partner income and a portion of the annual recreation budget.
According to a survey conducted last year, what residents want at the facility includes:
The center may also include an indoor turf field, walking track, locker rooms and administrative offices.
There are two potential locations for the center -- on a seven-acre parcel along Middlebury Road, across from Fred Fuller Park, or at Fairchild Fields at Fairchild Avenue and Majors Lane. Idone said the site near Fred Fuller Park was the No. 1 choice among those surveyed, because of its proximity to the bike and hike trail.
"People wanted it to be connected to the hike and bike trail," he said. "People want to be able to have access to the trail without having to drive their cars."
Other reasons to put the facility at Fred Fuller Park, Idone said, including having the facility in a highly visible location -- able to be seen by those traveling on Haymaker Parkway -- and centrally located in the city, something Kent residents want to see.
Idone said bringing such a facility to the community would be a tremendous asset.
"Our programs have really just expanded over the last 10 years," Idone said. "We really don't have the facilities to provide certain programs like indoor basketball," Idone said. "We went gym space everywhere. We rent at two different churches in Kent and the schools allow us to use some of their gyms after hours. Those are the things we are spending money on now that we can put into a comprehensive facility here."
"The prospect of a new parks and rec facility is excellent news for public health and wellness, local athletics, and community activities in Kent," said City Manager Dave Ruller. "It's great to see the progress John Idone has made to develop the concept to this point."