Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the Sartell Community Center won’t be, either.
Some city residents have long wondered if a center will be built at all. Ever.
But have hope: It’s going to happen.
It’s a virtual certainty a center will be constructed and be ready for all to enjoy as early as the winter of 2016. Construction should begin in early June 2016, according to a step-by-step center schedule released by Sartell City Administrator Mary Degiovanni Jan. 12. (see related story in today’s paper).
There are bound to be some glitches and setbacks along the way, but the schedule should gladden the hearts of all center enthusiasts, which includes the vast majority of Sartell residents who have wanted such a center for at least the past 15 years.
Many have asked: What’s taking so much time? Why is there never any forward movement toward a center? Why does it keep seeming to end up on the back burner of city business? Those are good questions. The city, in partnership with private fundraisers, has spent an enormous amount of time and effort on creating Pinecone Central Park in the past few years, and a good thing, too, because that park is a wonderful asset for the city and for the whole area.
But now, finally, it’s time for the city to spend an equal amount of time and effort on a community center. The time-frame schedule should keep everyone’s attention focused on the task at hand, step by step, from selection of an architect and construction manager (this January and February) to site plans, cost estimates, operational details (the rest of this year and early next) to the groundbreaking in June 2016.
Much has been made over the issue of whether to build a center from scratch or retro-fit one into an existing building. Retro-fitting sometimes works for some kinds of functions, such as businesses, but it would be a Procrustean disaster for a community center, cramming this or that amenity into the nooks and crannies of an existing structure, no matter how big. Besides, retro-fitting is in most cases more expensive than constructing a new building right from scratch.
Another topic of debate is where to site a center. There are three obviously good choices: near the city hall in Pinecone Regional Park, along Pinecone Road in south Sartell (an area some want to see as a “downtown” area someday) or in Pinecone Central Park. The latter would be an ideal site for a number of reasons: plenty of room, scenic beauty and ease of access.
We hope the city does not stint on amenities for the center or on the building itself. This long-delayed dream deserves the very best, not some concatenation of cut-rate compromises. It must be a center residents will use and be proud of for many years to come. It must also be built with possible expansions in mind.
There should be plenty of half-cent sales-tax revenue to afford a fine-quality center with an excellent variety of amenities, including a branch library and a senior center.
Hip-hip hooray! This new year is going to be a very exciting year in Sartell; it will be, at long last, the Year of the Community Center.