Sept. 29, 1989
St. Joseph winter recreation hall proposed
by Stuart Goldschen
A proposal to build a $200,000 multiple-use winter recreation hall in St. Joseph is currently under study by a volunteer blue-ribbon committee of local citizens.
Preliminary plans for the building outline a 107-foot by 86-foot gymnasium to be built in Memorial Park. It would accommodate one basketball or two volleyball courts and serve a variety of other recreational needs.
Col. Jim Brummer, chairman of the seven-member study committee, said the building should be completed by 1991, pending completion of the plans, approval by the city council and successful funding. He said a financing campaign will begin sometime next year.
Brummer said the plan envisions a variety of fundraising activities to pay for the facility, eliminating the need for public expenditures. The city council would be asked to donate public land for the building site.
Brummer, instrumental in organizing several other community development projects in the past decade, said the estimated $200,000 cost for constructing the hall was “strictly horseback guessing.” He said the estimate, however, was probably a “bare bones” figure that included special costs for the installation of a state-required handicap access ramp and a fire-safety sprinkler system.
The hall is tentatively planned to stand in Memorial Park at the junction of west Birch Street and 2nd Avenue NW, northeast of the city baseball field. Parking facilities for some 200 vehicles would be constructed on both the Birch and 2nd Avenue sides of the park.
Brummer said he presented the idea for the hall to the St. Joseph Recreation Association in February in response to the expressed needs of the community.
He said a recent survey among members of the Recreation Association, which organizes a softball program of 64 teams at Millstream Park, showed interest in organized basketball and volleyball. Respondents estimated some 50 local volleyball and 12 to 15 basketball teams could be organized to play in a newly constructed city facility.
Brummer also noted the results of a city-needs survey last year that revealed a high interest in recreation. He said 60 percent of the 600 respondents felt “increased recreation” was a primary need.
City Clerk Rachel Stapleton said the survey results put recreational development in second place behind the need for a new water tower.
“People just talk to me and say, ‘Hey, winter recreation is a need,'” Brummer said. “That gave me the idea of building something where there could be virtually unlimited recreation conducted, summer or winter.” He said current St. Joseph facilities for basketball and volleyball were limited and not always available.
Stapleton said the city started a winter recreation program in 1987 and expanded it last year to run from December through February. The program now includes sessions for skating, hockey, skiing, bowling, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics and swimming.
A new recreation hall could accommodate some of those activities and many others, including archery, roller skating, badminton, ping pong, shuffleboard and indoor tennis training, Brummer said.
“You can let your mind go and say it can be used for anything short of pistol and rifle training,” he said.
Brummer emphasized, however, that the hall would not be used for activities in competition with local business establishments. Although he envisions some limited use of the building for family picnics and gatherings, he said other events such as weddings would not be allowed.
The committee Brummer heads to study the feasibility of the recreation hall project was appointed by Mayor Mike Loso in late April.
Besides Brummer, a retired professor of military science at St. John’s University, the committee includes Bud Reber, a city councilman and retired construction foreman; Leo Sadlo, a councilman and retired engineer at the College of St. Benedict; City Clerk Rachel Stapleton; Idelia Loso, retired academic dean for instruction, North Hennepin Community College, Brooklyn Park, Minn.; and Wally Honer.
The committee is exploring various means of funding the project, including fund-raising activities, private and public grants, and revenue from the sale of public property, according to Brummer. He said “the thrust of the whole working group is to provide the building without using tax money.”
Brummer said the committee would like to establish a trust account to guarantee the annual income needed for the maintenance and repair of the facility. He said the account would “put the project at its lowest possible risk.”
An initial contribution of $12,000 already has been given to the project by the Recreation Association, and a commitment of $10,000 has been made by American Legion Post 328 of St. Joseph, Brummer said.
Sketch of the proposed St. Joseph recreation hall to be built in Memorial Park by 1991. The 107-foot by 86-foot gymnasium will serve a variety of community recreational needs.