Major Health Partners cleared one final financial hurdle that will pave the way for a YMCA to create a branch in Shelbyville.
Jack Horner, CEO of Major Health Partners, addressed the Shelbyville Common Council Monday night at City Hall to explain its proposed $15 million investment in Intelliplex Park that would create a 63,000 square foot structure that will house a wellness center, retail space, and a YMCA. To help insure the success of the YMCA, Major Health Partners sought out partnerships with city and county officials and the Blue River Community Foundation to also build a natatorium that will house a warm-water pool open year round in Shelbyville.
MHP asked for $3 million from city and county officials to construct the pool that would serve several purposes in the community including rehabilitation, recreation and education.
After more than an hour of discussion from members of the fitness business in the community and citizens expressing both excitement and trepidation about spending tax dollars on the project, the council passed the funding plan 6-0 with councilman Brad Ridgeway abstaining his vote citing a personal conflict of interest.
“MHP would like to express our sincere gratitude to our City and County officials and the Blue River Foundation for their support and commitment which will allow an indoor, warm-water pool in the Community Health and Wellness Center and YMCA project,” said Horner in an email to The Shelbyville News Tuesday morning. “The addition of the pool will play a significant role in the long-term success of the center and fill an unmet need for the community. This public, private, and philanthropic collaboration confirms our unified goal of improving the health of our community, positioning Shelby County for future growth, and improving the quality of life for the citizens of Shelby County.”
On Monday, Horner stepped to the podium in front of a standing-room only crowd at City Hall with the financial commitment from county officials secured and a $900,000 commitment from the Blue River Community Foundation. With a financial plan in place, the council heard from Horner on why MHP needs partners to build the pool and secure a YMCA branch for Shelby County.
Horner discussed the boxes he needed checked to show YMCA a commitment to the project. Those included community buy-in in terms of a financial commitment from city and county government, a health care system that can provide professional staff to assist with the development of programs provided by YMCA, industry support in the region, and philanthropic participation in the project.
In addition to the YMCA with a heated pool, MHP also would develop 2,500 square feet of space that would be operated by Shelby Senior Services to expand its programming and support.
“In Shelby County, they are projecting between now and 2035 to have an increase in a little over three percent in people 65 and older every five years,” said Kim Koehl, executive director of Shelby Senior Services, who opened her address by stating that the organization has outgrown its current space. “The number of people getting older, that will be over 65, is going to continue to grow. With this, we can increase our types of programming.”
Hasnain Merchant, owner of Shelbyville’s Anytime Fitness, and Dale Long, an area manager for Anytime Fitness, discussed with the council the business numbers of working in the fitness industry. Their argument against the project centered around a rather large investment of taxpayer funds for a small population that would actually utilize the facility.
Ray Schebler, owner of Shelby County Athletic Club, a fixture in Shelbyville for three decades, spoke more passionately to the deal that could possibly end his business. He objected to his taxes, both business and individual, being used for a facility that would directly compete with his company.
“My biggest complaint is taking taxpayer dollars to compete against us ... the private sector ... that’s been here this many years and paid this amount of money. And it’s not just in one industry,” said Schebler.
Horner, later in the meeting, addressed the frustration of the local fitness club owners, especially Schebler.
“Our design is not to put you out of business. Our plan is to grow the health, wellness and fitness of the community,” said Horner.
“Don’t take my taxpayer dollars and compete. If the hospital wants it ... great. I think it’s great that you guys want to invest but I don’t think you have the right to take my property taxes and compete against me,” responded Schebler.
The Common Council settled on option No. 3 of the payment structures for its portion of the cost of building the natatorium. Using Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) funds, the city will pay $100,000 annually starting in 2020 and running through 2028. In 2029, 2030 and 2031, that cost will rise to $225,000 for a total payment of $1,575,000.
Horner, in an interview with The Shelbyville News late last month, expressed a desire to start construction by the end of 2019 and open in the fourth quarter of 2020.
In other council business Monday:
* Approved NextSite, a retail research, marketing and recruitment company to work for Shelbyville for one year to recruit retail, which includes the food industry, to the area at a cost of $25,000.