Committee makes presentation regarding wellness, recreation center

Published 4:20 pm Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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During a special called Harlan County Fiscal Court meeting on Monday, the Wellness/Recreation Center Committee presented its findings from a feasibility study commissioned by the fiscal court in 2018.

Judge-Executive Dan Mosley said the committee is made up of representatives from each magisterial district and the judge-executive’s office. The individuals were appointed in 2019, including Eric Perry, Jackie Renfro, Jeremy Williams, Bryan Howard, Dr. Robin Magnani and Kristi Saylor Farley.

A high school student from each school district, the Harlan Independent School District and the Harlan County Public Schools, also participated until their graduation in May 2020. The students were Emily Sergent and Lucy Bryson.

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Coming before the fiscal court Monday, the committee members explained why Harlan County needs this center from a community health perspective to help improve physical, mental and community health outcomes throughout Harlan County’s population.

Mosley said it was also noted a facility of this nature would also be accessible and utilized by tourists and individuals in adjacent counties.

A plan for the facility was presented along with the committee’s findings. Plans for the center include three multi-purpose courts for basketball, tennis, wrestling, pickle ball and volleyball, a walking track, three batting cages, cardio room, sensory room, gymnastics area, above-ground therapy pool for rehabilitative issues, obstacle course adjacent to an indoor playground, healthy cooking kitchen/concession area, hunting simulator, golf simulator and two meeting/party rooms, which can be divided to make four total rooms.

Mosley said the committee is also considering a daycare option at the facility, if the project moves forward.
After hearing the committee’s findings and proposed plan, fiscal court members voted to advertise for engineering/architectural firms to submit qualifications to work with the committee and fiscal court on the facility.

Mosley said the site seen to be most fit for the center is Rhea Field, which was acquired by the city of Harlan in 2018 from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Mosley was authorized during the fiscal court meeting to speak to Harlan mayor Joe Meadors about requiring the field.

According to the committee’s research, nearly 20,000 people live within 30 minutes of the location.

“I believe in a project like this because we need it to improve health outcomes of the people of our county. We need it to show our young people that we care about their development. We need it to make them more competitive so that they can achieve the dream of going to college through scholarship opportunities. We need this to make our community even more attractive to companies we are recruiting here. We need this element for tourists to enjoy. We need this for so many reasons documented in this presentation today by this committee, but I believe we need this for many reasons that we don’t even know or understand yet. Those reasons will prove themselves for years to come if we do this,” Mosley said.

If the project comes to fruition, Mosley said there will be opportunities for corporate partnerships.

In addition, affordable annual membership fees for households, individuals and senior citizen members will be offered. For those who don’t wish to be a member, daily user fee structures will be available as well.

“A facility of this magnitude will be a multi-million dollar project and is anticipated to cost more than $700,000 a year to operate,” he said. “I am very excited about the action taken today (Monday) to move this project to the next step to get a design finished and determine a true cost. I am appreciative of the work of this committee, and I’m thankful our fiscal court has been wise with resources and is prioritizing the health of our communities.”

For questions or concerns regarding the potential facility, call Mosley’s office at 606-573-2600.