Community Center or Not?

March 23, 2014 at 2:32 am Leave a comment

By Andrew Richter

Well the “frugal” and “conservative” Golden Valley City Council wants a new Community Center but first they have to con residents into paying for it……

Brookview Community Center has served residents of Golden Valley and the surrounding areas for decades whether it be a senior fitness program, adult yoga session, teen dance or youth crafting class.

Then leave it be….

Although the building houses several programs, often residents are required to travel outside the city to participate in a program. Brookview Community Center is believed to have been purchased by the city in the ‘60s or ‘70s, according to Director of Parks and Recreation Rick Birno.

They don’t even know?

Formerly a country club, the building’s last renovation was in the ‘80s with only minor mandatory improvements made since then. Given the state of the current community center, the need for a new facility has been on the minds of city staff for years. The parks and rec department has proposed creating a Community Center Task Force to help vision a potential project.

A Community Center Task Force??? Seriously???

The task force would serve with the mission of “providing input based on historical use patterns, community needs, staff input, future program and revenue opportunities as well as gather new information to make a recommendation to the City Council regarding the construction of a new community center at Brookview.”

Survey says

According to results from the 2013 city survey, a new community center has support but not as much when it comes to paying for it. Of the 400 residents surveyed, only 29 percent said they used Brookview Community Center last year, but a resounding 77 percent said they want to see more community programs for all age levels within the city. When asked if residents would support a new community center, 65 percent said “yes;” however, only 17 percent said they would be very likely to use the facility.

So let me ask an obvious question; if only 17% say they will use the facility why would you even think of building it?????

The city would likely need to increase property taxes to fund the construction of a new facility.

Ya think?

But 39 percent of respondents were not willing to pay extra for the facility and 48 percent approved only spending an additional $3 to $9 per month for the project.

Sounds like people don’t want it!

Of the amenities that could be located in a community center, respondents preferred an indoor swimming pool, banquet and meeting rooms, a child care center, senior and teen programs, an indoor children’s playground and indoor walking-running track.

Do we not have those things at other places?? If you want this join the YMCA!

Task force

The Community Center Task Force will be comprised of 19 members from various departments within the city including Open Space and Recreation Commission, Planning Commission, Environmental Commission, Teen Committee, Parks and Recreations Department, Public Works Department, Communications Department and more.

So the “committee” is basically a who’s who of government! Real objective Golden Valley!

The group is expected to be appointed in May and will meet six times, once per month June through October. The task force will present its finding to City Council Nov. 12, and the group will look for direction from staff as to how to proceed. The City Council must decide to pursue the project and move forward with public meetings and financing plans or stop the project process.

Professional planning

City staff also plans to select a consultant to complete a needs assessment, conceptual design and estimated budget for the potential project. The city will begin accepting applications from architectural firms to complete these tasks for the approximately 40,000 square-foot building. The consultant will be expected to present to the City Council at up to three meetings. The overall analysis will include input from the Community Center Task Force, identification of building program needs and refinement of space for each program and costs associated with each.

The consultant will look at costs for renovating the existing building, demolishing and rebuilding at the current site or locating elsewhere. While it is unlikely the current facility would stay and a new facility would be built, Birno says anything is possible.

And how much do these consultants get paid? I assume they aren’t working for free……

Although the Brookview Park site would likely be the cheapest and possibly easiest, City Council agreed it would like to see various location options. Keeping the facility at Brookview Park could also include additional costs for renovating the golf course if that is deemed necessary.

Mayor Shep Harris voiced interest in looking at the other corner of Highway 55 and Winnetka Avenue as well as in the vicinity of downtown Golden Valley. There was even talk about potentially combining City Hall with a community center, which would cost more but serve more purposes.

Harris will vote for anything….

Councilmember Joanie Clausen said she is well aware that the residents surveyed are in favor of having the new facility but may not necessarily be in favor of funding it.

But only 17% say they will use it!

She asked Birno if there was any chance the city could partner with a fitness center to help with funding. While Birno admitted there had been no interest from outside parties, it is something the task force could look into. He mentioned the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park as having interest in a partnership several months ago but is uncertain if the interest remains. An area soccer association has also voiced interest in a potential partnership.

No public/private partnership!!!

Well look for a community center to come about….whether citizens want it or not!



Entry filed under: City Government, Community, Golden Valley, Taxation.

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