West Side News

Prairie Township Community Center

Trustees must choose final design by end of April


Prairie Township trustees saw preliminary plans April 3 for a new 38,000-square-foot recreation center that will include an aquatics center, gym, community space, a catering kitchen and a track for walking and running.

Mark Bodien, from the design team of Moody Nolan, presented four schematic designs for the aquatics center and the organization of the building's interior. The design team already has decided to increase the size of the fitness area and create a larger gymnasium based on input from a steering committee.

"Our goal is to have the schematic design to be complete at the end of the month," Bodien said.

That means trustees will have to act quickly on what design or combination of designs they would like to see.

Township officials expect to break ground for the new community center this fall.

The $10.8-million project will be financed over 25 years, trustees said. Total operating expenses will be around $1 million annually with a revenue stream capturing 75 percent to 80 percent of that.

"The goal is to have the center be self-sufficient," Bodien said.

He said the steering committee of residents, business owners and local stakeholders, came up with a list of items they deemed important at the new facility. It includes taking advantage of a scenic view on the west side of the property and making sure the outdoor water park is connected to the indoor aquatics center.

Scott Hester, part of the aquatics design team from Counsilman Hunsaker, said the most important question that trustees will have to answer is whether to include a diving area in the aquatics center.

Hester said diving requires more deep water, so if trustees vote in favor of diving, there will be less shallow space in the pool.

He said the pool features the committee would like to see include diving, zero-depth entry with a shallow area for children, lap lanes, a current channel, water slide, an area for water basketball/ volleyball and an outdoor "sprayground."

"These are recommendations from the steering committee," Hester said. "The biggest question is should you have diving or not. You need to try to decide whether you want all that deep water and then go from that point.

"It is a modest-size pool," he said. "We are doing a lot with a small space."

When it comes to the interior layout of the building, the steering committee wanted to make use of a lot of glass to showcase the scenic view on the west side of the building, Bodien said. The committee wanted to make sure that there was a flow from indoor to outdoor activities which would mean the spray park would be located just outside the pool area.

Seniors who attended the meeting were concerned about not having a fully functioning kitchen in the center. Bodien said most recreational facilities have warming kitchens where there is space for catering food or having a potluck.

While a refrigerator and other areas are designated for storage, there would be no stove or oven, he said. Including a fully functioning commercial kitchen would mean an increase in cost by as much as $100,000 and it would be subject to a large list of requirements, including health inspections.

Bodien said the steering committee will meet once more in April, and the trustees will have to decide on a design by the end of the month.

The township will pay for the project with money collected from a new Joint Economic Development Zone, which allows the township to collect an income tax from the business district along West Broad Street.

Residents approved the JEDZ in 2011.

The next Prairie Township trustees meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 17 at 23 Maple Drive.