August 8, 2012 | LXXII, No. 19

Study: Community center is completely feasible

If you want it, you can have it.

That’s the bottom line of a study on whether building and operating a center for the community to come together — for events and meetings, fitness pursuits, indoor swimming and more — is at all feasible.

The report, delivered Monday night to a group that has been exploring the possibility, outlines a community/wellness center that could easily be sustained, while adding good jobs to the local economy.

Gary Leva, of Gary Consulting Group of Spokane, was retained last winter to honestly assess whether the idea could work, or whether the local area just couldn’t sustain such a facility.

Leva delivered his conclusions Monday night to the steering committee put together by the Coulee Medical Center a year ago.

Leva, who runs the Benewah Wellness Center in Plummer, Idaho, detailed expenses and income that could be expected. He said his estimates of income were quite conservative, while expenses were figured on the heavy side.

At a minimum, he suggested, the community could build a “first class” 19,300-square-foot facility at a cost of about $5.5 million that would offer an aquatic center, community meeting rooms, and a fitness area. The new center he outlines would be open seven days a week and employ 17 people.

“This is a place that people should see and say, ‘Wow,’” he said.

Leva’s envisioned $768,000 budget would break even in the first year, which he said is so unusual that he double checked the formulas in his spreadsheet program; most startup facilities lose money in the initial years.

Membership fees, set low, Leva said, should remain affordable and still make up most of the needed revenue, but not all. Leva said the community could contribute as a whole through public funds from Coulee Medical Center, and by possibly tapping hotel/motel taxes for operation of tourism facilities, and from grants and donations.

Steering committee members were highly encouraged and even excited by the postive numbers, but wanted time to digest the report. They will meet again within two weeks.

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