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City OKs $10M for Civic Center
McCord, Scott - new mug.jpg
McCord

McMinnville officials are moving forward with a multi-million dollar project to renovate and expand the Civic Center.

At a joint meeting of the city’s Parks and Recreation and Finance committees held Tuesday, members unanimously voted to recommend to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen the city borrow up to $10 million to cover both construction costs from Sain Construction Company and architectural services from HFR Design.  

Prior to that decision, McMinnville Parks and Recreation Department director Scott McCord outlined the need for renovation and expansion. 

“As of right now, we have outgrown and moved into a new era,” McCord said. “We have a wonderful facility that has served its purpose for nearly 45 years. The center has seen countless people come through its doors. The center as it stands cries for attention and much-needed love.”

The project includes construction of two additions along the front sides of the building. McCord said the facility is busting at the seams with activity.

“We have spin classes in what used to be a small racquetball court. On the other side, we have a storage area for bleachers that has now been turned into a space for boxing. We have bathrooms used for storage and even converted one into office space for staff. We offer new classes upstairs on the balcony. Those classes need to be in a room. Downstairs our Silver Sneakers class is over 30 each time. We offer yoga, kids dance, Zumba and other aerobics classes. We’ve contacted Vanderbilt University in consideration for a partnership to offer obesity management classes for children, but right now we don’t have the space.”

The project includes complete renovation of the existing facility to address current issues.

“Our racquetball court, if you’ve seen it, is buckling and uneven,” said McCord. “You hear nuts and bolts falling as you pull the bleachers out. Staff usually has to use a crowbar to get the bleachers back in. our hallways are storage for 80 to 100 tables. Those are used for all our special events. We have no true walking track and that’s a huge complaint. Our indoor tennis court doesn’t have a suitable height. Our dividing curtains have been patched and sewn together. We’ve strung a line across the middle of the court and made a dividing curtain out of a tarp.”

The project will provide an updated gym with stadium seating for 1,200, as well as indoor tennis court, walking track, racquetball court, office spaces, community rooms, updated and additional bathrooms, an elevator to access the second floor.

The Wellness Center will be enlarged to include bathrooms/ showers, separate area for weights, and an area for children to wait while their parents exercise. The children’s area will be glassed-in so parents can watch their children as they exercise.

“Our Wellness Center is crowded with people on machines. We get requests daily for different apparatuses but we don’t have the space for it. For safety reasons, we don’t allow kids into the Wellness Center. They usually have to sit outside in the lobby. Now, we hope to have a kids’ room.”

McCord says the project will correct an existing difficulty in offering large events.

“When we have a large event, we have to shut the whole building down. The new design allows us to keep all sections open and accommodating to our citizens. We could have youth basketball going on downstairs, people in the Wellness Center, people walking the track. Upstairs we could have volleyball, tennis and soccer being played, spin and boxing classes. We could have aerobics going on, art classes and birthday parties all at the same time. Right now, when we have a large event, the entire facility is shut down and we get numerous complaints about not being able to use the facility.”

HFR Design was selected by the city to be the project’s architect. Sain Construction Company submitted the lowest base bid of $9.2 million. With an alternate of $160,000 for paving the front parking lot and three other bid options that totaled $53,500, the total bid rose to $9.4 million.

Finance Committee chair Everett Brock, who presented financing information, says the city can afford this project. 

“I have stated in the past the city can afford $9 million without a tax increase,” said Brock. “The debt service on $9 million is around $600,000 a year, which is doable. Also, we have between $300,000 to $400,000 worth of debt service rolling off over the next four years.”

The city has close to $2 million earmarked for capital improvements, and committee members expressed a desire to consider using that money on the project and only borrowing $8 million in order to lower the annual debt service payments. Brock offered to generate those numbers and have that information by the time the board meets.

The project is estimated to take 18 months. During that time, Civic Center activities, including the Wellness Center, will be relocated.