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Three wellness center sites identified
April 05, 2013 · Jennifer Pandich

Possible sites for the proposed Mount Vernon wellness center were unveiled for the school board last week.

The Mount Vernon City Council in March approved a contract with Mount Vernon's Sauter Baty Associates for initial architectural design of a wellness center. Cost is not to exceed $58,500.

Preliminary estimates put the cost of a wellness center at $6.3 million. There's $400,000 set aside from a previous City of Mount Vernon local option sales tax. Voters in 2011 approved a 20-year extension of a local option sales tax, with 25 percent of the revenue going toward a community center. That's estimated to bring in $1.5-$2 million. The rest of the funding would come from grants and donations. The proposal also calls for working with the school district and Cornell College.

Ed Sauter, who operates Sauter Baty and has been involved in wellness center planning for several years, presented an update of the proposal to the school board last week.

There are three possible sites for a facility, two of which are on school district land. The first is west of the track, requiring the relocation of the tennis courts; the second is south of the high school. Both of these sites have access from Palisades Road.

The third site is on Cornell property, north of the high school along College Boulevard.

Some school board members were skeptical, however, about losing land owned by the school district.

"I think it would be a mistake to sell land we might need later on," commented board member Paul Morf.

Board member Mark Weldon asked if plans for an early childhood center might be included in some conceptual drawings.

Sauter replied that including room for such a facility is certainly possible in some of the conceptual drawings.

"I think you'll find the board more receptive if you include some of our facility needs, such as the space for early childhood or an auditorium," Morf said.

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