With the Grayson County Healthplex campaign fundraising efforts falling approximately $4 million short of the estimated funds needed to build the complex, the project committee is looking at optional ways to begin working on the project.
In addition to the shortage of funds, the problem is exacerbated by the City of Leitchfield facing a dilemma of perhaps being forced to close the city pool in 2009. The city is currently faced with the expensive task of repairing the pool, which would be pointless if a pool is constructed as part of the new Healthplex.
In recent months, letters were sent to all the parties who pledged funds for the Healthplex asking if the complex were built in phases, with the fitness center first and the swimming pool to come later would each individual or group still be willing to contribute.
The Super Committee, along with the hospital, is recommending the money be used to build the fitness center first without the pool.
But the city and several contributers have asked that the pool area be built and the fitness area added later.
If the 50,200 square-foot, state of the art community Healthplex is built as originally designed it will include a junior-size Olympic pool; gym for basketball and volleyball; rehabilitation room; therapy pool; three-lane walking track; strength and conditioning area; aerobics classrooms; cardiovascular and weight training area; locker rooms; classrooms; meeting room; and a snack bar area.
The original idea of the Healthplex came about when citizens of Grayson County expressed a need for a family centered wellness and recreation facility to benefit everyone. The original concept was an equal partnership between city and county governments, the school board, and the hospital.
The Healthplex plans are designed to offer a wide variety of healthy benefits to every member of the community.
A board consisting of concerned citizens was formed and that board is known today as the Super Committee.
The committee consists of; Grayson County Schools Superintendent Barry Anderson, Grayson County Judge Executive Gary Logsdon, Leitchfield Mayor William H. Thomason, Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center CEO Steve Meredith, Kevin Shaw, Denny Buckles, Darrell Moll, Sue Sims, Raye Montgomery, Kerry White and David Downs. Judge Kenneth Goff and Peggy Majors are both honorary chairs of the committee.
“When the committee was formed the goal was to have the fund raising completed by 2007 and begin the project,” said Super Committee member and Senior Vice President of Cecilian Bank David Downs. “It is now 2008 and we are about $4 million short of what we need to complete the whole thing. There is currently $3.5 million dollars available in money and pledges.”
The Super Committee now is looking at several different options to begin building the Heathplex.
One option is to build half of the complex and use the current cash available with no debt.
“The fitness, gym and rehabilitation part of the Healthplex can be built with the cash we have now,” said Downs. “Then as the economy picks up or the funds become available we add the swimming pool later. The pool would cost the $4 million that is not available.”
A second option would be to build the swimming pool and add the rest later.
A third option is to build the whole thing and borrow the money necessary to complete the project.
“Regarding the possibility of financing approximately $4 million needed to complete construction, I think it is very possible our local banks could combine resources and lend the funds in what we call a participation,” said Downs. “This would require those benefiting from the Healthplex namely the City of Leitchfield, Grayson County Fiscal Court, Grayson County School Board and Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center to step up and guarantee payment.”
Downs stated that the money generated from the pool and rehabilitation areas as well as the membership fees would all help to cover the payments.
“I am willing to recommend to our board that the hospital go into debt to build this thing if there is a partnership such as with the city or county,” said Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Steve Meredith. “What I am most frustrated with is that everyone agrees this is a good idea but not everyone is willing to help build it.”
Judge Logsdon and Mayor Thomason both agreed they would present any and all proposals to their governing bodies but would not speak for them without discussing it.
“I can’t speak for the Fiscal Court,” said Logsdon. “But if there was a proposal to the Fiscal Court we would definitely discuss it. This is a big undertaking and I don’t want to do anything that will put an additional tax burden on the citizens of this county.”
“I am willing to discuss the proposal with the council,” said Thomason. “We need to have everyone on the same track to make a decision about what route we need to take.”
Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center has donated $1 million cash along with the land the complex will be built on.
The rest of the $2.5 million is in the form of pledges or cash from various groups, organizations, businesses and individuals around the county.
The fiscal court has pledged $500,000 in-kind monies, which means the county will do bulldozer work or other necessary work, but has not pledged any cash.
The City of Leitchfield originally agreed to contribute $100,000/year toward operational type expenses provided the pool is built. The city has not pledged any tax dollars to build the facility.
The Grayson County Board of Education has said it would also help with operational type expenses if the pool is used by the county’s students. The school system is prohibited by the state from adding funds to any building that it will not own.
“Although we cannot pay to build the swimming pool, we can pay a user fee to use the pool and have a swim team or have our students take swimming lessons,” said Grayson County Superintendent Barry Anderson.