Survey out on ERCC project on locating on Ely hospital campus

by Tom Coombe -

Ely area residents have a chance to share their thoughts on a proposed recreational complex in town.
The Ely Regional Community Complex task force has joined forces with the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities in commissioning a survey that was mailed to many area homes this week.
Survey participants can respond by mail or online, to a series of questions related to plans to place a giant recreation complex just west of Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.
“We’re just trying to gather facts and get opinions,” said Jeff Sundell, who chairs the ERCC board.
In late-2018, the ERCC and EBCH announced an agreement to explore the development of a community recreation complex that might include a swimming pool, indoor track and other amenities.
The YMCA signed on earlier this year as part of an effort to “fulfill unmet health needs of the community,” and the proposed recreation complex would conceivably be paired with a major expansion of the hospital campus, leading to perhaps as much as 80,000 square feet and over $24 million in development.
Plans for the ERCC have been in the works for several years, and supporters have often cited the results of a statistically valid study, done in 2014, showing much community interest in a recreation complex.
Sundell said the survey out this week is essentially a “follow-up of the last one we did.”
“The basic purpose is a needs analysis,” said Sundell. “What we’re trying to get down to is if there’s truly a need for the facility. We want to be sure.”
The four-page survey includes 18 questions, divided into subject areas including:
• Desired health and wellness and aquatic features;
• Activities for youth and teens;
• Activities for older adults;
• Interest in membership;
• Childcare options;
• Demographics.
The survey offers a glimpse of what proponents envision for the ERCC, which could be as large as 40,000 square feet.
The health and wellness segment includes questions about indoor lap swimming and leisure pools, and interest in amenities such as an indoor walking and running track, group fitness classes, personal training, weight room and equipment, meeting space and water aerobics.
Under the activities components, respondents are asked to indicate interest in family nights with open gym and swim time, day camps, fitness and dance classes, youth sports leagues, group and water exercise classes for adults, as well as organized activities and special gatherings.
Questions also centered on membership fees, with respondents asked about their willingness to pay monthly membership fees of $49 (individual) to $71 (family), as well as potential interest in seasonal memberships from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The survey also poses questions about childcare including before and after-school childcare, full-day recreational programs, as well as all-day childcare for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
Also included are questions related to overall interest in the facility, thoughts on the partnership involving ERCC, the YMCA and EBCH, and demographic questions including family size, income and age.
According to Sundell, survey results could be completed by the end of May and results could be released as soon as next month.
Despite $6 million in grant awards, the ERCC has stalled for over a year after efforts to locate the complex on the Ely school grounds failed to take hold.
The organization has since turned its attention to the hospital campus, finding common ground and now an additional partner.
The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities is a non-profit that touts dedication “to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”