On Thursday, August 2, 2012, I had the pleasure of leading a tour of 70 residents accompanied by city project manager Rudy Acosta of the nearly completed $17 million dollar “Desert Hot Springs Health & Wellness Center”. Residents were able to view the status of the new 33,000 square foot facilities and to see up close the wide range of services that it will provide to our community.
The background leading up to the development of this project started with preliminary plans in the early 1990’s, then progressed in the late 1990’s when Roy Kellerman was director of the Desert Hot Springs Boys & Girls Club. After Roy left to accept a position out of state in 2000, as his replacement, I inherited the responsibility of continuing the forward momentum.
Our initial steps involved coordination with our County Supervisor at the time, Marion Ashley, who helped secure over $300,000 to purchase a portion of the ultimate site that is located between Cholla Drive and Ed Wenzlaff Elementary School. This acreage was expanded to the current land configuration thanks to the additional acreage donated by the City and property donated to the City by the Mission Springs Foundation.
Starting in 2002, the Boys & Girls Club of Desert Hot Springs began writing a joint grant application with Santa Rosa del Valle for a medical clinic to the Desert Healthcare District as part of a special community healthcare initiative. A grant of $153,000 was approved to provide primary health care services to Desert Hot Springs residents. This was the beginning of a relationship to build our Health & Wellness Center in the city.
In 2003, Mayor Matt Weyuker and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Congressman Jerry Lewis for the purpose of discussing the concept of a “Health & Wellness” facility for our city that would also include a Boys & Girls Club. Congressman Lewis came through “BIG” for the city; he was successful in securing in excess of $3 million in appropriations.
In 2005, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer visited the Desert Hot Springs Boys & Girls Club to present the club’s staff with an “Excellence in Education Award” for their dedicated work in improving the reading and math scores of over 800 kids in the community. Based on her visit and personally viewing the success of the clubs education programs, Senator Boxer pledged $500,000 towards the future Health & Wellness Center for the city.
During the same time, the Desert Healthcare District commissioned a study of the health needs of city residents, which identified that the community was grossly underserved, with the final report recommending the need for a community-wide Health & Wellness Center. Specifically, the completed study advised the need for increased recreational opportunities for youth and families, as well as health education, fitness services, chronic disease management and support.
The Desert Healthcare District emphasized that a Health & Wellness Center for the city would provide children and families nutritional education, athletic opportunities, and exposure to positive life outcomes for residents. The fitness center & community room will be 3,000 square feet and have heavy use and the city will see millions of dollars in savings over the next few years in health care costs.
The City Health & Wellness Center will consist of five (5) main components – (1) a health & wellness center, (2) a Boys & Girls Clubhouse, (3) an athletic center with a gymnasium, (4) an aquatic center, and (5) a learning center. The general public will have access to all of the components. The 10,000 square foot athletic center will feature a gymnasium with all-purpose flooring suitable for basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer and other sports and special community events.
I personally extend my “thanks” on behalf of the Desert Hot Springs community for the foresight of many organization and thoughtful individuals who have help make our “Health & Wellness Center” a reality. The following lists those generous and helpful organizations and individuals who helped make the center come into being, including the Desert Healthcare District, Santa Rosa Del Valle, Supervisor Marion Ashley, Congressman Jerry Lewis, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, the Mission Springs Foundation, State of California Department of Parks & Recreation, the Mission Springs Water District Board members, and members of the City of Desert Hot Springs past and present City Councils.
Individuals include past city managers Bob Wilburn, Corky Larson, Rob Parkins, Joe Guzzetta, Ann Marie Gallant, and Rick Daniels, the Women’s Club, Marge Cook, Steve Sobotta, John Soulliere, Dr. Tadd Lonergan, John Furbee, Roy Kellerman, Dr. Jim Chase, Audrey & Courtney Moe, Max Lieberman, Judy Shea, Manny Aragon, Debbie Hadden, Fred Deharo, Judith Gargyi and Dr. Allen & Lisa Lawrence. As of this date, the grand opening is tentatively set for October, 2012. I’m looking forward to seeing a large community turnout during the opening ceremonies.
Desert Hot Springs City Councilman