A history of the Cook County Community Center process, compiled by Diane Booth.
Created by WTIPradio on Apr 11, 2012
Last updated: 04/19/12 at 10:41 AM
History of the Cook County Community Center has no followers yet. Be the first one to follow.
-Everyone met to discuss the possibility of moving forward with attaching a new community center to the school. -Chris Francis, CEO of Duluth YMCA, stated that the preliminary look at whether the YMCA would be a good fit for our community and feasibility seems positive. -The County Board of Commissioners and YMCA have agreed to move forward with a SEER Feasibility study (SEER Analytical) to determine further feasibility. Cost is $2000 and has been approved.
-Concerns expressed about feasibility of keeping old community center; building a new community center in the NW corner; adding a warming house/rec building because of distance between amenities. -Request will be coming from the school to use 1% funds for a new gymnasium floor. -Request again from the Steering Committee to have the County Board/School Board meet and re-open discussions about attachment of new community center to the school. -County Board has now decreased the budget for the new community center facility, ball field and outdoor ice rink to $9 million, including furniture, fixtures and equipment. -ORB stated that if the County Board has changed their mind about location, they would no longer recommend the NW corner for location. -What does the YMCA offer to our community if they were contracted by the county to manage the new community center?
-Current net costs (expenses - revenues) for operating the pool, the current community center, youth activities, community education programs, is costing a total of -$479,675 per year. Our goal was to keep net operating costs at the same level or less for a larger, more energy-efficient facility. -Previous options looked at for operating the new community center included: 1) Cook County would own the building and all employees would be county employed, based upon union wages. If county, city and school all kept their support at the current levels, the projected funding required would be more ~ $501,526 without a establishment of a depreciation or a building replacement fund. 2) Cook County would own the building and all employees would be Community Education employees. Community Education is considered to be a 501 C 3, has a separate budget from the school but ISD 166 serves as the fiscal agent, does not have any unions so wages could be based upon prevailing wages in Duluth for similar positions. This would reduce wages for city and county employees currently in these positions but raise slightly community education worker wages. The estimated net costs would run from +$20,625 to $41,455 based upon different scenarios. 3) Cook County could own the building and lease operations to the YMCA.
-YMCAs are independently owned and operated by each community so each looks different and services the need of that community. -If the Duluth YMCA operated our community center then we would become a branch of the Duluth YMCA. -Even though YMCAs started as a faith-based organization (Young Men's Christian Association), they are considered to be a non-profit and have 501 C 3 status. -They have 4 core values: Caring, Honesty, Respect and Responsibility. -YMCAs fundraise to cover costs of youth not able to pay fees for programming. -They believe it is possible to fundraise $100,000 a year or more. -Items they would be looking for in a new building would be those amenities that would raise funds: pool, fitness center, gymnasium, and meeting rooms.
-The final design at $700,000 included a zamboni, storage for other rec groups, warming area, skate sharpening space, concessions space, bathrooms, changing rooms. -The Hockey Association is willing to downsize. -Lots of concerns about recreating another recreation center to meet needs of groups if the new Community Center is located in the NW corner. County Commissioners realize the location they chose may not be the best.
-$5,750 was supported by the County Board to use Meyer Group architectural service to develop a warming house design. -County Board requested that we include any other possible user groups in the design process. -Location of rink was changed by Meyer/Fritz Sobanja from behind the old Community Center building to keeping it where it is currently located. this would eliminate the option of putting the new Community Center in that area in the future. -A number of designs were discussed ranging from $400,000 on up.
-ORB, Meyer and JLG recommend Option 5 (northwest location across from Horse Park) as the best site at this time due to related site development cost, political issues and programming. -By deciding on a location, decision regarding other recreational amenities can be made. -The school district has not indicated a desire to consider the location next to the school. -The NW corner would eliminate potential issues with vehicle and pedestrian traffic. -Pedestrian friendly pathways could be included for accessibility. -A location decision at this time would not cost anything or change the current suspension of the project's status.
-Cook County Amateur Hockey Association wants to move forward with a new hockey rink/warming house without waiting form the Community Center to be decided -Originally the ball field and skating rink projects were a separate project, but they became part of the entire community center project due to critical relationships between restrooms, locker rooms, food, warming areas, etc. -ORB would like the site selection for the Community Center to be the county's first priority as opposed to having the hockey rink location dictate the Community Center location. -A warming house is not part of the current Community Center design, and would be additional cost. -Moving forward as a separate project will lose some cost efficiency. It is cheaper to do both projects at the same time.
School Superintendent, Athletic Director and Principal had the following comments: 1) Single ownership of the community center would be important. Cook County should own it and the school could lease back what parts/functions they would like to use during the school year. 2) Schools have the opportunity to levy for lease aid but savings from maintaining the west wing could be applied to the costs of leasing space. 3) Two full-size athletic basketball courts appropriate for school varsity sports would be desirable. 4) Current west wing has water issues and the old community gym floor will need replacing soon. Costs have to come either from tax payers or 1% funds. 5) Many of the users would be students before or after school. 6) Moving the North Shore fitness center to the west end of the school would increase security. Adults currently gravel through the school facility for access. 7) Better communication between involved entities would be needed. 8) Four other attached community centers to schools have proved to be beneficial for everyone involved.
The committee recommended to the County Board that they consider Option 2 (location between old community center and tennis courts) and to re-investigate attaching the community center to the school.
The Board suspended all design efforts until the location is determined and city participation is established. The city had a contract with Burbach Aquatics to design their pool.
Options discussed: 1) Keep the building in the location presented to the public; 2) Re-configure the building to fit between the current community center and the tennis courts; 3) Build the new community center north of the existing community center; 4) Locate the building on the Pappy Wright field; 5) Build the new community center in the northwest corner of the community center property across from the horse park, and 6) Replace the west end of the school building/or attach it to the school. The Steering Committee also published in the newspaper "Frequently Asked Questions" about the Community Center.
1) They would consider only the locations a) the northwest corner across from the horse park, b) the location between the Community Center and the tennis courts without moving any tennis courts and c) a location where only 3 of the tennis courts would need to be moved to accommodate the Community Center between the school and current Community Center. 2) Authorization was made for additional soil borings to be done to determine costs/bedrock 3) The total Community Center project must stay under $10 million + furnishings/equipment. This would include the ball field and outdoor ice accommodations
Public Meetings were held on the design on May 10 & 11. The Steering Committee was asked to reassess all site location to determine the site with least amount of disturbance to existing amenities. Items also looked at: if hockey and curling could be accommodated together in same building, the grounds committee looked at all options where tennis court could be moved if needed to move and the senior center space in the design becomes an event space to reduce square footage.
Issues with current Community Center building cited: metal exterior not meant to last/not very appealing; entryway/hallway too narrow for larger groups; handicapped accessible ramp creates a bottleneck; acoustically the entire building is very poor, you have to turn off furnaces to hear in meetings; doors are inadequately weather sealed; social room is too small for most larger events; separate eating space needed from the meeting space; additional breakout rooms are needed for meetings; not enough storage space (current space taken over for locker rooms for curling); dance floor has been requested for weddings, dance, yoga, etc.; restrooms are inadequate for larger events; and total square footage is 14,600 that includes the arena space with ice for 6 months out of the year. Three design charrettes were developed in January-February 2011.
Identity: The kind of center other communities visit to get inspired, represents local natural environment, represents local historic industry: mining, fishing, trapping, logging, sustainable agriculture, the arts and tourism, a positive example of collaboration amongst government & public agencies, incorporates the historic 4H log cabin building, visually warm, inviting, multigenerational and multi-cultural, and connectivity--forest to harbor, physical and visual considerations. Functional Relationships: A clear identity as a community center, linked to the school, but probably not attached, flexible hours of operation, latchkey youth considerations and monitored, electronic controlled access. Growth & Expansion: Prefer to meet all needs up front, a facility that will serve Cook County for years to come; flexibility for future expansion is important; and open spaces for interior flexibility and adaptability for growth and changes. Sustainability & Appearance: 50-100 year facility; positive public example of energy efficiency, environmental stewardship and cost consciousness; alternative energy use and future adaptability important; facility that is easily maintained - minimize operational costs; use of natural daylight-view and energy efficiency; incorporate common architectural themes/elements from the region; Lunde-style architecture with artistic elements: murals, stained glass, artwork from local artists; and use of color is important.
Stakeholders with representation on the steering committee: Cook County Board of Commissioners, City of Grand Marais, School District, Community Education, Community Center Board of Trustees, City Park & Recreation, County Hospital, Sawtooth Clinic, Council on Aging, Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency, and Cooperation Station. Other interested parties/user groups: Tourism, Athletic/Recreation Associations, Childcare Providers, Faith Community, Scouts, Emergency Management, Utility Providers, General Public, Media, Elected Officials, Community Service Groups, City/County Library, Business Community, Transportation Providers, Private Health/Fitness Providers, Local Contractors, and Adjacent Property Owners.
Community Center was selected as a 1% project. Estimated cost $8 million-$12 million. LHB led 1% project process and estimated a 32,500 sq. ft. building at a cost of $9 million for a 2010 build. 1% sales tax is passed in the county referendum with 7 projects identified. Cook Cook County Community Center Board of Trustees wants to move forward with Community Center project and collect data. Survey went out to all user groups.
The Senior Center was invited to consider moving their center.
A land exchange took place between the school and county putting the tennis courts on county property and making sure the high school ball field was on school property. Tennis group was asked not to resurface courts until Civic Center concept placement was known.
Costs would be similar to keep pool where it is or move it up to Community Center.
Revitalization movement stopped to include consideration of a pool. Further discussion of using the 1% sales tax for facilities upgrades.
Funds were raised to hire the Center for Changing Landscape from the University of Minnesota to help us design the grounds around the Community Center and between the school. Also discussed a seperate amenity tax for recreation and were told to wait for the 1% sales tax to be finished for the hospital.
Entities discussed establishing a recreation committee between school, county and city.
Involved writing grants for outdoor skating rink, playground, picnic area, basketball court, refurbishing of 4H log cabin building and upgrade for Little League field.
Original cost in 1991~$557,000. $175,000 from IRRRB, $150,000 from Cook County, $80,000 in-kind + $30,000 Curling Club, $10,000 in-kind from CC Hwy. Dept. Buliding was drastically reduced due to reduced funding. Did not include gymnasium, day care facility, larger meeting spaces or additional office spaces.
This list included (things we have addressed): auditorium, curling rink, U of M Extension office, outdoor ice rink, tennis courts, picnic area, community college, and office spaces. It also included (things we have not addressed) an exercise & fitness space, place for community education classes, dance facilities, youth & teen recreation space, field house, park areas, ball field, and a convention space.