Whitehall News

Community center planning

Track, gym, outdoor 'sprayground' on amenities list

The city wants to stick to a $10 million budget -- which means a pool won't be included.

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

An indoor track, fitness studio, gymnasium and outdoor "sprayground" are among the amenities desired for Whitehall's first community center.

Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard, Recreation and Parks Director Steve Carr, representatives from MSA Sport Architects and members of the Armory Advisory Committee met Feb. 4 to discuss their vision for the future center.

A citizens' open house, a meeting designed to collect input and ideas from residents, is the next step and planned for sometime in early March, Carr said.

At the Feb. 4 meeting, representatives from Cincinnati-based MSA Sport Architects listened to the ideas of city officials and the advisory committee.

Suggested ideas were listed and participants assigned an order of preferred priority for each component. The numbers were averaged to create an overall list of the most preferred amenities, which could be used to determine what components the budget will allow.

Maggard said no more than $10 million will be spent on the project, including all architecture, planning and construction. Also to be included is a built-in contingency fund to cover any possible price overruns.

A pool most likely is outside what the budget will allow, Maggard has said in the past.

But the community center could include a water feature known as a splash pad, or a "sprayground," Carr said.

The outdoor feature, something Carr described as similar to the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus, sprays water from mounted, ground-level fixtures.

"We'd like to have an indoor playground, a nursery for child care and a studio for fitness and dance classes," Carr said.

The department's administrative offices, currently at Whitehall Community Park, would relocate to the community center.

It cost Whitehall only $1 to purchase the property from the federal government, as well as the former armory center at the site. However, the city must renovate the structure.

The U.S. Department of the Army declared the 25,000-square-foot facility at 721 County Club Drive excess property in 2005, as part of that year's Base Realignment and Closure program, or BRAC.

As such, it was made available to Whitehall for $1, so long as it was converted to a public use. The former U.S. Army Reserve Center was built about 1960.

It remains to be determined what part, if any, of the former reserve center can be refurbished.

The new community center is planned to be about 40,000 square feet, larger than the footprint of the reserve center.

Members of the Parks and Recreation Commission had previously met with MSA Sport Architects.

The company will use that input, together with the information from the Feb. 4 meeting with the advisory committee, to begin to craft a plan to show at an open house scheduled for early March.

At a Whitehall City Council meeting Feb. 5, council members considered an ordinance appropriating $900,000 for expenses related to the community center.

It is scheduled for a third and final reading at the Feb. 19 council meeting.

Maggard said the $900,000 appropriation will be used for topographic surveys, engineering fees and preliminary architectural services required in advance of construction of the city's first community center.

About $2 million from the general fund will be used for planning and construction, with the balance derived from the sale of bonds, Maggard said.

Comments