A public hearing on the Kish-Northwestern Health and Fitness complex plan is slated for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 9 in the DeKalb Library. People may wonder why bother to hold a hearing when it is already a done deal. Just a formality folks. It will add a 111,000 square foot edifice with all kinds of fancy fitness and workout equipment for anyone to join and use. The proposed $46 million project will be adjacent to the Kishwaukee Family YMCA and duplicate everything they offer and more.
Apparently the YMCA board has been co-opted into supporting the plans since they had their executive director come out publicly declaring it is “not a threat.” The board knows better than that. If they would reread their own consultant’s report they would realize it will have a major financial impact on the Y, its membership, programs and services to the community.
So why didn’t the hospital owners partner with the Y to share facilities and add onto an already established fitness center? Because they saw an opportunity to increase revenues by hiring Power Wellness LLC and a for-profit company doesn’t want to share anything. I have a suggestion for them—just buy the YMCA and take over their facilities. They would probably sell it for the same bargain-basement price Kish Health paid for the Ben Gordon Mental Health Center. That has languished since the purchase last year and improvements in service are critically needed as mental health issues have escalated around the county since the hospital closed its inpatient unit. More on that later.
I should also mention the negative impact that this new health and fitness conglomeration (including two pools and physician offices) will have on area fitness clubs, plus health and wellness facilities like the new MoI center and Northern Rehab just across the street. But like the big box stores that move into many communities, forcing existing smaller businesses out, I am sure the Kishwaukee branch of Northwestern Medicine project will be welcomed with open arms by those who think bigger is always better. But they probably are unaware that Northwestern Medicine pays no property taxes on the hospital out here.
Hope to see residents turn out for the public hearing.