A Critique of McHenry County College’s $42 Million Health Club Expansion Plan – Part 3

This is a continuation of Stephen Willson’s critique of the $42 million health club/classroom expansion proposed by the McHenry County College Board.

Proposition 5: There is a need for additional classroom space.

Response: MCC has plenty of unused capacity and demand is unlikely to grow.

In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, MCC stated they do not know the extent to which their current physical plant is used.

This is an incredible admission, but if true, how in the world can they claim they need more space?


  • physical survey evidence and examination of classroom capacity data,
  • total semester hours earned and
  • (declining) average class size

(all available in their annual report) show existing classrooms are empty 33% or more of the school day, proving that MCC has substantial unused classroom capacity.

There simply is no need for more classroom space.

Further, the Census Bureau projects that the number of 18-34 year olds will decline over the next ten years, a projection born out by the fact that there are 20% fewer third graders in McHenry County schools – MCC’s freshmen in ten years – than there are high school seniors.

So MCC is likely to need less space, not more.

None of this is addressed in the so-called “feasibility study.”

Proposition 6: The County NEEDS a big, new government-run health club.

The entrance to Centegra's Healthbridge health club.

The entrance to Centegra’s Crystal Lake’s HealthBridge health club.

Response: I don’t even know what to say to that.

MCC’s proposal calls for spending $42 million for a 120,000 square foot building.

That is $350 per square foot, which every local business person knows is more than three times the going rate for commercial space.

According to MCC, 28% of the space in this building will be used for a new and improved fitness center for its students.

In other words, almost $12 million of the projected cost will go towards building a new Health Bridge-like club.

MCC already operates a vastly under-utilized fitness center.

Based on several observations at various times on various days, the fitness center usually has only a handful of students in it.

It operates at less than 20% of its capacity.

Yet the new fitness center will be at least five times the size of the current fitness center.

Further, there are more than twenty fitness centers already in operation in McHenry County.

Why should taxpayers subsidize a fancy new health club that will compete with private enterprise?

= = = = =
The following are running for the three open spots on the McHenry County College Board:

  • William Scott Alford, Wonder Lake, received December 19
  • Chris Jenner, Cary, received December 26, 2012
  • Carol Larson, Harvard, received December 17
  • Erik Sivertsen, McHenry, received December 26, 2012
  • Mike Smith, Village of Lakewood, received December 17
  • Molly Walsh, Crystal Lake, received December 21
  • Barbara Walters, McHenry, received December 26, 2012
  • Arne Waltmire, McHenry, received December 17
  • Thomas Wilbeck, Lakewood, received December 26, 2012

Incumbents are Carol Larson and Barbara Walters.

Rest assured I shall ask each whether they will vote to sell bonds without asking voters for permission first.

More tomorrow.

= = = = =

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.


A Critique of McHenry County College’s $42 Million Health Club Expansion Plan – Part 3 — 5 Comments

  1. After months of denials, today (01/06/13) MCC finally admitted that their classroom utilization is only 45%!

    Yet they STILL claim they need more space.

    The NWHerald article also notes that the total number of health care jobs is expected to grow by 1,000 over the next three years.

    That’s 333 per year, only half of which would be available to community college grads, or about 167 per year.

    But MCC wants to increase their program from 780 students to over 2,100, or 700 to 1,000 graduates per year.

  2. oh don’t bring up numbers they hate that.


    This is bologna.

    Where they gonna get the money?

    Do they have that much in the piggy bank?

    They gonna raise taxes? They gonna raise tuitions?

    10 percent growth or 15 percent growth over ten years is not impressive.


    That’s like 1 percent a year.

    Oh, and here’s another thing that bugs me.

    They can quantitatively say “this many jobs were created” but they have no idea how many people applied for those jobs.

    Will creating a new wellness center create a demand for more wellness jobs (other than to staff the wellness center itself)?

    We could enroll everyone to be a lawyer and build a new law school, it doesn’t mean we need more lawyers.

    This is a farce.

  3. My bad they say a 10 percent increase in 4 years.

    2.5 percent a year.

    I don’t know if that’s good (but it seems average to me).

    I shouldn’t pretend to be an economist.

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