OUR OPINION: Growth brings new challenges for ChoiceMembership growth at Choice Health and Fitness is good news, but also a source of concern.
By: Tom Dennis, Grand Forks Herald
As western North Dakota knows, the problems of growth are good problems to have.
But they’re still problems.
So it is at Choice Health & Fitness in Grand Forks, where the fantastic growth in membership truly is outstanding news — but also, in its own way, a source of honest concern.
Is the facility big enough? What about crowding? And what about parking: Despite the parking lot’s expanse, finding a spot can be a challenge during Choice’s peak hours of use, some members say.
Then there’s the matter of the planned addition of a two-rink hockey arena to the health and wellness center. Again, terrific news; again, what an upbeat and exciting time to be a resident of Grand Forks.
And again, will the facility be big enough to handle the influx of cars and crowds?
Already, Choice’s nearly 13,000 members amount to 21 percent of the combined population of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Herald staff writer Ryan Bakken reported (“A fifth of area residents are Choice members,” Page B1, March 25).
Meanwhile, the number of memberships “continues to increase at a breakneck pace,” the story reported.
At this rate, how long will it be before the center is approaching something like capacity? What, if anything, will happen then?
On balance, Choice’s success shows both the clarity of the Grand Forks Park District’s vision for the facility and the strength of the public-private partnership that the district created.
Years ago, Park District Director John Staley pointed out that just as Americans had come to expect public playgrounds and public baseball fields, they’re now looking for public wellness centers. That’s especially true as people learn more about the importance of fitness.
Staley was right; and the $25 million facility that resulted has drawn more memberships and attendance than Grand Forks’ private sector alone ever could have done.
Now, the Park Board should think about the problems of success, if the members haven’t started doing so already. As mentioned, these are good problems to have. They’re even great problems to have. But they’re still problems, and the center’s management and the district’s leaders should tackle them with openness and drive.