Crystal Lake residents call on Park District to buy Northwestern Medicine Gymnasium

Crystal Lake residents call on Park District to buy Northwestern Medicine Gymnasium

Cary’s Jack Jacobs, 80, told the Crystal Lake Park District Board that he “didn’t want to be dramatic,” but their discussion of the soon-to-close Northwestern Medicine Fitness Center in Crystal Lake , was a “decision that could affect [his] lifetime.”

Jacobs and dozens of others attended Thursday’s park district board meeting to implore park commissioners to consider trying to buy the fitness center, which Northwestern Medicine recently announced would be closing. on December 30.

More than 260 people also signed a petition, sent to both the Park District and Northwestern Medicine, asking them to figure out how to keep the facility open.

Park commissioners showed some support for the idea, but cautioned that it was speculation and that no substantive discussion had taken place with Northwestern Medicine or among park district leaders about the how the fitness center could be acquired.

Residents’ concerns about the closure relate primarily to the fitness center’s unique facilities – in particular, a hot water pool that many say is a crucial part of their health and fitness regimen.

“I understand where Northwestern is coming from, but this facility is more than bricks and mortar,” Jacobs said. “It’s a fabulous space that took me away from a wheelchair. I don’t need slides or laps. I need this therapy pool.

Another resident, Carol Caruso of Crystal Lake, told park district commissioners that she was able to avoid serious spinal surgery by exercising in the therapy pool.

Community members spoke for over an hour, highlighting the opportunity for the park district and the potential for a seniors center or new community space in Crystal Lake.

Commissioner Eric Anderson said he was not in favor of private sector competition with facilities such as a gym, but agreed the hot pool was a unique asset that could justify the involvement of the park district.

“We’re only scratching the surface right now,” Anderson said. “But if we can get Northwestern involved with us, that’s a possibility.”

Crystal Lake Park District Commissioner Eric Anderson addresses dozens of community members who petitioned the Park District at their Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022 meeting to consider purchasing the Northwestern Medicine Gymnasium which is expected to close at the end of the year.

In a letter sent to members last month, Northwestern Medicine said it was consolidating services from the McHenry County Fitness Center to its Huntley location.

The Crystal Lake Fitness Center “had experienced a significant decline in membership over the past six years,” Northwestern Medicine spokesman Chris King said this week.

Park District Assistant Treasurer Jason Heisler said the stories and requests from passionate community members “brought me to tears,” and he agreed it made sense for the Park District to look at options. .

Park District Treasurer Debbie Gallagher reiterated that no formal discussions between Northwestern Medicine and the Park District have taken place.

Northwestern Medicine is also “reviewing a variety of options for future use of the location,” King said.

The Northwestern Medicine Crystal Lake Health and Fitness Center informed members late last month that it would close on December 30, 2022.

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