Plans are in the works to build a million-dollar fitness center for City of Nogales employees.
The approximately 4,400-square-foot building would be located off Hohokam Drive behind Ron Turley soccer field and would be open 24/7 to all city workers.
A design for the center presented during a city council meeting last Wednesday by Tucson-based architecture firm WLB Group shows that the space would contain treadmills, stationary bikes, rowing machines, weightlifting machines and free weights.
Construction cost estimates come to $800,000 for the building, $205,000 for the site, and another $65,000 for an access road.
It would be paid for by the Employee Benefit Trust (EBT), the city employees’ group healthcare fund that’s headed by Parks and Recreation Director Marcel Bachelier.
In addition to a main exercise room, the plans call for a group exercise room, locker rooms, and a conference room, as well as a test kitchen area that architect Gary Grizzle suggested could be used to teach classes on healthy cooking and eating.
Councilmembers raised some concerns about the project, but voted to let Bachelier move forward with producing construction plans.
Councilman Marcelino Varona, Jr. suggested that the center might hurt business at other gyms in town.
“We don’t want entrepreneurs to say, ‘You’re taking business away from me,’” he said.
And several councilmembers questioned whether the center would be big enough to accommodate the city’s more than 200 employees.
Grizzle said that he was not sure how many machines would be necessary given the number of employees with access to the building, and added that he had designed the building based on space requirements.
In recent years, the EBT has put in place programs to promote healthy living among city employees in an attempt to reduce healthcare costs. They include giving out fitbits and offering a $90 discount on healthcare premiums for employees who meet certain health goals.
At last week’s meeting, Varona asked Bachelier if the building would be used to monitor which municipal employees were going to the fitness center.
Bachelier responded that that wasn’t the idea.
Speaking to the NI afterward, Bachelier said the new center could help employees meet the health and fitness goals required for the premium discount, but that there weren’t any plans to give a direct incentive for use of the facility.
(Correction: This story initially reported that the building would be approximately 400 square feet. It will be approximately 4,400 square feet.)