by Dennis Dalman
A task force for a potential Sartell Community Center has been formed and is in the process of creating a survey, as well as public input meetings, about what city residents would like as amenities in such a facility.
The task force met in early October to formulate a plan and, as of press time Monday, was scheduled to meet Oct. 24 to fine-tune that plan. Work by the task force is expected to be completed sometime in March 2013. If all goes well, some kind of community center could be constructed or retrofitted in 2014.
At the first meeting, task-force members shared ideas about what amenities might be favored most by the people of Sartell. In the past, surveys and community meetings showed Sartell residents strongly favored a community center that could include the following: a branch library, a senior center, a place for the Sartell Historical Center, kitchen facilities, community meeting rooms and some recreational amenities – perhaps even an indoor pool. Those surveys and community input meetings took place so the city would have specific ideas on how to spend half-cent sales-tax revenues for city and regional needs, including a community center.
Currently, there are plans to spend close to $2 million in sales-tax revenue for a community center. It is still not known if a center will be created from an existing building or by construction of a new building. It has also not been determined where a center would be built within the city.
The task force’s mission is only to make a recommendation to the city council concerning spending the sales-tax revenue on the building, not on possible recreational or athletic facilities, such as a pool, that might someday be part of the center. Private interests might well help turn those community wishes into realities down the road.
At the early October meeting, task force members, while brainstorming, came up with possible amenities in the center that could perhaps include a large meeting space with a catering kitchen, a space for seniors, a technology space for computers (not a full-fledged library), a youth facility, an early-childhood resource space, and places to showcase local art and history. The most frequently mentioned item on a wish list was a place for a senior-citizen facility within the center. A full-fledged branch library, task-force members noted, is still far in the future as the Great River Regional Library has no plans at this time for another branch library in the area.
Task-force members expressed concerns about competing with private businesses and double-checking currently available spaces throughout the city to see if they can or cannot be used for some functions proposed for a center.
Another goal of the task force is to analyze costs of maintaining a center, if user fees should be initiated and how much those fees would be.
The task force members drew up a rough draft of a community survey and will fine-tune that survey after consulting with individuals and groups in the city.
Once a community survey is approved, it will be widely distributed via social media, the news media, the city’s website, the Chamber of Commerce and in the schools.
The task force is comprised of the following members and the groups they represent: Bill Worsala, Sartell Planning Commission member; Pat Lynch, Sartell Economic Development Commission; Ann Doyscher-Domres, Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education; Jan Sorell, Sartell Senior Connection; Shawna Hanson, Sartell Chamber of Commerce; Nancy Dyson Powers, Friends of Sartell Library; Ron Hurd, Sartell Historical Society; Pastor Brady Finnern, Sartell Ministerial Association; Brady Anderson and Sienna Schneider, both Sartell school students; and ex-officio members Dan Tideman, task-force chair; Patti Gartland, city administrator; Anita Rasmussen, planning director; Mary Degiovanni, finance director; Sarah Jane Nicoll, Sartell City Council; Sartell Mayor Joe Perske; Dan Riordan, Sartell-St. Stephen School Board; Diane Schellinger, park commission; and Joe Hill, Sartell-St. Stephen School District superintendent.