by Dennis Dalman
Sartell residents will soon have plenty of chances to give their input on what they would like to see in a Sartell Community Center that would be constructed largely with $1.6 million in sales-tax revenue.
The council decided a renewed effort to get public input is vital, even though surveys from nearly 10 years ago showed strong favor for building a center with half-cent sales-tax funds. Still, the council wants to know what residents want as far as amenities that could become part of the center.
A Sartell Community Center Task Force, now in the process of being formed, will hold its first meeting from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3.
In the near future, there will be announcements of a community survey and community open-house event where residents will be encouraged to give input, including questions and suggestions.
The community survey will be promoted and available through social media, the city’s newsletter, the city’s website, on the city’s community sign, through news media and through the Sartell Area Chamber of Commerce and the school district.
Another part of the process will be potential user-group meetings and focus-group meetings with such entitities as the Great River Regional Library, Whitney Senior Center, Sartell Legion, Sartell Rotary, YMCA, the Sartell-St. Stephen School District, the Early Childhood Association and any other groups who might be interested, in one way or another, with a Sartell Community Center.
At the Sept. 10 Sartell City Council meeting, Sartell City Administrator Patti Gartland released a two-page document that outlines the entire process, based on input from council members, city staff and others.
Gartland’s summary also includes timelines for all phases of the planning process. The following are elements of the plan, which – if all goes well – should lead to the creation of a community center as early as 2014.
Representatives of the following groups will soon be named to the Community Center Task Force: city planning commission, city park commission, city economic development commission, Sartell-St. Stephen Community Education, the school district, Sartell Senior Connection, Sartell Chamber of Commerce, Friends of Sartell Library, Sartell Historical Society, Sartell Area Ministerial Association and a youth-related organization.
The duties of the task force will be to work with staff and the council to complete a facility-needs assessment, to help evaluate potential sites for a center and cost alternatives based on what residents want in a center.
Dan Tideman of GLT Architects has agreed to submit proposals and to work with everyone during every step of the way. GLT Architects worked with Sartell during a similar community-center-planning process in 2002 and with other city construction projects in the past.
Answers must be found to the following questions:
What amenities do residents want in the facility?
What are the operational costs associated with various amenities and how will they be funded?
Who are the potential partners and how much support will they offer?
Are there other facilities, existing or planned, that could be included in a community center?
What is the ideal location for a center?
All of the above input and analyses are expected to be completed between October 2012 and March 2013.
Finding a site
Next will come the site- and facility-options phase. That will include identifying sites already owned by the city, sites not currently owned by the city (including buildings and property) and then developing perhaps several site plans and cost estimates. That phase will take about three months, from April 2013 to June 2013 – or perhaps sooner.
The final phase would be the preparation of construction plans and development-of-operations agreements, which would occur throughout the rest of 2013.