Mayor Don Wesely, other city officials and neighborhood representatives today kicked off construction of the "F"Street Community Center project with the "Great Big Wet and Wild Bullseye Wall Splat." Participants "christened" the project by throwing balloons filled with tempera paint at a wall targeted for removal.
"This is a fun and unique way to celebrate a long-awaited community project for this area," Mayor Wesely said. "It's been more than ten years since the four surrounding neighborhood groups began discussing the need for more recreation space and programs in this area. I want to thank them for their patience, their diligence and their participation in improving the quality of life in their neighborhoods."
A 1995 study identified the need for a new facility along with the programming and service area. Efforts to plan for a new center intensified in 1997. After three years of public meetings, construction documents were completed. Funding uncertainties were resolved in April of this year when the Nebraska State Legislature passed a bill clarifying the use of Municipal Infrastructure Redevelopment Funds (MIRF) to pay off bonds on the project. Bids were solicited later that month, and Builders, Inc. was selected as the general contractor for construction of the new center. The $3.5 million dollar project came in about $500,000 under projections. The new center is expected to open in January 2002.
The community celebration today included entertainment by those now using the current center, including a demonstration by the Yo-Yo Club and a performance by the P.L.A.Y. (Positive Learning Activities for Youth) Camp Club, a singing group of elementary-aged children.
The current building dates back to 1929, when it was opened as a fire station. It was converted for use as a 4,000-square foot community center in 1965. The renovated center will be 34,000 square feet and will serve the Near South, Everett, South Salt Creek and Downtown neighborhoods. The new facility will include indoor and outdoor basketball courts, outdoor play equipment with a soft-surfaced play area, game tables and video games, computer and television rooms and an indoor track and fitness equipment area. The center will also have meeting rooms and program spaces for recreation classes and for human service agencies.