By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Residents would like to see a possible community center near Veterans Park, and not in the town center, the Town Board was told Monday.
Brian Kulpa and Melanie Anderson of Clark Patterson Lee, the firm conducting both the update of the town's comprehensive plan and a community center study, briefed the Grand Island Town Board Monday during a work session about data taken from community input meetings. Kulpa said that the prevailing wisdom drawn from the last input meeting was that people said they would like to see a possible community center located closer to Veterans Park, for its natural tie to the high school and middle school. Respondents would also like the town to invest in the Nike Base Park.
Kulpa ran down a building assessment for the Nike Base and advised the board to "pick and choose your moments" at the base, but consider Veterans Park for a fieldhouse or expansion if the town opts to take that route.
Kulpa said that, during the input sessions, where residents broke out into tables of small groups, the idea of a fieldhouse had come up at the most tables with the most interest.
He added that there seems to be "some synergy" with locating a center near the town's library, and that feedback indicates a preference to keep the town center a walking business district.
Kulpa said there were outlier items, such as a pool and ice rink, in a community center proposal that had overall detraction of cost, such as an estimated $8 million for ice rink.
"A big part of what we heard from the community so far about this community center is that it needs to be a year-round facility where we can do recreation, we can do arts and culture," Kulpa said.
Senior citizens who have been vocal in their support of keeping the Golden Age Center at the Nike Base got their message across. Kulpa said, "What we heard very loud and clear is that there is a group of users that currently uses the Golden Age Center who are very interested in seeing that Golden Age Center stay in its current location and seeing it expanded or improved upon at that location."
The GAC building has had additions and "a decent amount of money" put into it over the years, Kulpa said. In the next 5-10 years, the town is looking at renovation costs of a few hundred thousand dollars, which he called "proportionately good, considering the size and scope of the building."
Other buildings at the Nike Base, which he said were built with a "25-year model in mind" of wood frame, but "weren't really built to a 100-year standard," are in worse condition. As a whole, the facilities don't have a "tangible lasting quality," he said.
Maintenance B, Building 1 and Building 2 are hazards to human life and safety and should be demolished, as they don't serve any noticeable need, he said. The community building and recreation building have anticipated 5-10 year costs over $800,000.