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OUR VIEW: DWU project great, but city still has other wellness needs

Dakota Wesleyan University's newly announced plan to build a wellness center is great news for the university and the community.

With $10 million raised for the project, DWU is prolonging an incredible run that has seen it build the Sherman Center, the McGovern Library, the Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center and several other projects, all in the past decade or so. It's all been done without significant debt, and it's put the university on a stable growth path and ensured its future presence and success in Mitchell.

A wellness center is a needed item for the university. We've seen DWU athletes practicing in hallways at the existing campus wellness center, which will also get an upgrade while the new wellness center is built across Norway Avenue.

All that said, DWU's move does put the city and Avera Queen of Peace Health Services in a quandary. Both entities had showed interest in cooperating with DWU on a joint wellness center that could solve DWU's need for practice space, the city's need for a competition-sized indoor pool and Avera's desire for an improved community wellness facility.

The DWU plan lacks an indoor pool. That's a quality-of-life item this community lacks, and one it needs to be competitive with other growing communities of similar size. It would bolster the youth swimming club in town, but more than that it would provide another recreational option during the long winter months through which this city's residents annually suffer.

We don't know all the usage details of the DWU facility yet, but we suspect its availability to the public will be somewhat limited. The center will be on campus, after all, and student activities will likely take precedence. That leaves the community still craving a first-rate, publicly accessible wellness facility to improve upon the city's Recreation Center and Avera's Wellness Center, neither of which is ideally situated currently.

We're told there may still be a chance for all three entities to cooperate somehow on their individual priorities. We hope that's true.

Of course, if DWU moves ahead without the city or Avera, the DWU project will still be great for Mitchell. We just hope DWU's forward progress doesn't set back progress on other important, community-wide, wellness-themed projects.