An Uncommon Solution to an Age-Old Challenge:

The program of necessary spaces totaled 119,000 square ft., and it was clear that the quality of the facility must be improved, or the membership plateau would translate into a membership decline. With these constraints and a desire to double the 60,000 square ft., the architect created plans for renovation and addition. Conceptual design construction estimates of $14 to $18 million would solve some of the challenges, but not all. The plans did not include a new jog/ walk track, nor additional class space. Only a single court gym was in the expansion plan. No new locker rooms, multi-purpose room, community room, youth / teen program space, nor meeting rooms were in the expansion plan. The expansion would also create reduced parking capacity.

Is An Entirely New Facility a Better Answer?

Questions were raised from the conceptualization of the community’s vision. Braun & Steidl then issued the “Comparisons of Data” report that addressed the missing program issues not included in the renovation study with the possibility of creating a new stand-alone City Recreation/ Wellness Center. A new facility was considered including a partnership with the hospital for corporate wellness programs.

Research Generates Options for Community’s Vision

Many individual meetings between Richard Pierson, Superintendent of Parks and Recreation and each councilperson to review the project status were key to our success. Also critical were visitations to local and out of state community recreation centers, that revealed what could be built. These centers are beautiful expressions of new community identity. All these centers were bright, airy, spacious, with an abundance of glass that brought the outside site to the indoors. A visit to the new Middleburg Heights Community Center raised the bar for quality.

Open houses were held for patrons at “The Nat,” and a public meeting was held to review original surveys and discuss future potential options for development. At the conclusion, the vision still included all the previously stated rooms, and lastly, the public was in favor of locating the facility in the same central area of downtown.

Making the Right Choices to Achieve the Community’s Vision

In June 2000, City Council approved a contract with Braun & Steidl Architects (Architect of Record), Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture (Design Architect), McHenry & Associates (Mechanical and Electrical Engineers), Thorson Baker Structural Engineers, and Water Technology, Inc. Turner Construction Company, a construction manager, was retained by the City to examine the construction costs of the facility. The existing facility was examined and key issues discovered structural deterioration, ventilation codes and equipment inadequacies, pool filtration systems degradation, and lack of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) compliance. These issues were applicable to all four additions and the original building. The resulting study reflected that the community’s vision would be best met by a new facility. An extensive process was implemented to develop a new program and concept for a stand-alone facility located just south of the existing building. This months-long process included writing a statement of goals, re-writing of an architectural program, development of several conceptual plans, arriving at a single concept, defining specific spaces and components, and the consideration of a “Civic Complex” that tied the new Recreation/ Wellness Center into the context of the City Hall, Municipal Courts Building, and High School campus.

Can we afford it? Advancing the Community’s Vision to Reality

Turner Construction provided a detailed cost estimate of $24 million. A construction timetable was established to complete the design work, break ground in the fall of 2002, open the Center in the summer of 2004 and finish site construction in the fall of 2004. At that time, the revenue/ expense model needed to be validated.

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