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McLouth community center hopes rest on residents economic condition

McLouth residents who comprise the Recreation Commission are keeping their fingers crossed.

Commission members are hoping results from a study of income within the city of McLouth are better than 10 years ago, although “better” does not mean a thriving community. Instead, they’re hoping that more than half of McLouth residents fall below the median income level. In 2000, the city fell percentage points from qualifying for a federal grant to build a new community center within the city.

“The people in McLouth were too wealthy,” Recreation Commission President Randy Watson said.

To fund a new community center the commission is hoping to qualify for a federal grant but more than half the city has to fall below that median line. Watson along with fellow commission member Cliff Weeks told a handful of residents last week that they are optimistic the city will qualify for the grant.

If the city successfully qualifies the next move will be to hire a grant application writer the commission already has in mind. However, time is limited because grant applications are due Oct. 1.

Commission member Cliff Weeks said estimates for the community center are between $400,000 and $500,000. The city along with the school district would be involved in the total process that would require a 25 percent local match.

Weeks said the school’s portion of the match will be the parcel of land that will be donated to the city for the construction. Current plans call for the center to be built next to the new playground equipment in Rose Park.

The other option for funding that the commission considered was not popular. One plan called for financing the community center construction with the tab being picked up by an increased mill levy.

The Recreation Commission is funded through the USD 342 board. Currently USD 342 taxpayers are assessed two mills on their property taxes for the commission.

Weeks said operating the grant and construction of the building through the city will also reduce the costs of the project. He said construction facilitated through USD 342 would have required more safety regulations such as sprinkler systems, extra sink basins and hand washing areas. Other things such as a stove would be prohibited or at least cost prohibitive under the regulations. Such regulations would add considerable cost to the project.

Weeks added that the commission wants to have money left to furnish the building.

Some in the community have been concerned about how the community center would be financially maintained after the construction.

Weeks said the commission will be able to financially handle the community center without raising the mill levy in the future.

The community center will generate revenue Weeks said. One reason the community center is needed is because of the lack of space for birthday parties, weddings or wedding receptions. The commission plans to generate revenue from reserved rentals of the facility.

The commission also plans to hire a person to administrate and maintain the building.

Weeks said a senior center and a cardio fitness center are also part of the plans.

Some residents expressed a concern that the community center would turn into a gym or that services would be duplicated. Watson said the center will not be a gym, however, the commission wants the building to be able to accommodate any event.

“We’ve set it up as being flexible if that’s the way things need to go,” Watson said.

“We’re not thinking about hanging basketball goals and putting in a wood floor,” Weeks added.

The space currently being occupied as a community center would be turned over to the library for possible expansion. Weeks said the library will remain in the same location.

by Dennis Sharkey

Short URL: http://www.jeffcountynews.com/?p=232

Posted by on Aug 22 2010. Filed under McLouth, Municipalities. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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