Moraine approves plan for Health and Wellness Center

College officials target Feb. 2014 opening of $34.7 million facility

By Kimberly A. Thielen

The Moraine Valley Community College board of trustees voted unanimously last week to approve the layout and construction plans for the school’s $34.79 million Health Education and Wellness Center.

The 115,000-square-foot, two-story facility will be built on the west side of the Moraine Valley campus in Palos Hills. The building will house a fitness center open to students, faculty and area residents members, and will feature a field house that can seat 3,600 people for events including graduations.

The center will also house an indoor walking track, three full-sized basketball courts, an athletic training room, group exercise studios, pool, hydrotherapy tub, athletic offices, classrooms, locker rooms for both patrons and athletics teams, and a café. The facility will replace the college’s 40,768-square-foot fitness center and gymnasium housed in Building G.

The college will fund the project with money from a recently approved $35.5 million bond issue. Moraine officials are targeting a projected opening date of Feb. 14, 2014.

Moraine officials, who have said substandard athletic and fitness facilities make the project a necessity for the school, decided in March to move forward with the project after conducting a phone survey of residents in the college’s district. Proposed monthly membership fees for the facility’s fitness center are $59 per person, $89 per couple and $119 per family, and a separate rate for senior citizens. Full-time Moraine students will have full access to the center, and part-time students will pay a fee based on a sliding scale that could include “buy-up options” for full access to the facility, college officials have said.

Funds from the fee will be earmarked for capital projects, and will offset the lack of the state appropriations for capital projects over the past several years, Moraine Valley Executive Vice President of Administrative Services Andrew Duren has said. The money will be used to construct new facilities, renovate existing facilities, improve parking lots and replace roofs, and for the general upkeep of campus — with a portion of the funds going toward the Health Education and Wellness Center.

College officials project the membership fees will raise enough revenue to cover the costs of operating the health and wellness center.

The college is still negotiating with health care companies for a partnership in the endeavor. A corporate Sponsorship could provide rent, student educational opportunities and community health wellness, college officials have said.