Old Armory’s future still uncertain
Clintonville council reviews options
By Bert Lehman
The future of the Rec Center owned by the city of Clintonville was again discussed by the city council at its June 9 meeting, and once again there was no consensus on what to do with it.
Justin Mc Auly, Parks and Recreation director for the city of Clintonville, addressed the council regarding information and costs to improve the Rec Center, which is the old Armory building. The council had asked him at the March meeting to research this information.
Mc Auly said he received one quote regarding a new heating system for the building.
“We’re looking at roughly $60,000 to upgrade the heating for the 22,000-square-foot facility,” Mc Auly said.
This quote included eight forced air furnaces. Because the current building has a boiler system, Mc Auly said the state would have to approve the plan before any changes can be made.
Mc Auly also informed the council that the current heating system in the building is running between 30-40 percent efficiency.
The bid he received was for a system rated at 92 percent efficiency. The heating system in the bid also allowed for the heating to be controlled throughout the building.
To make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Mc Auly said there were two options to get to the second floor.
The first option was to build an 88-foot ramp since the increase in elevation to get to the top platform is 88 inches, Mc Auly said. The ramp and a handicap accessible door would cost roughly $10,000.
The other option is for a ramp in front of the building that would wrap around the east side of the building. In addition to a handicap accessible door, this option included a lift in the stairwell. The option would cost roughly $33,500.
To make the basement ADA compliant, a window on 12th Street would need to be removed and an entrance door installed. The cost for this would roughly be $2,500.
The cost for a mens bathroom upstairs would cost $10,000-$20,000, Mc Auly said.
Mc Auly said the other option is to winterize the building. Since the building has never been winterized before, Mc Auly said valves would need to be installed so pipes in the building can be drained.
“We’re looking at about $1,000 to winterize it,” Mc Auly said.
He added that it would probably take about two weeks of work for his employees to winterized the building.
“The cost would go up if we had another company come in,” Mc Auly said.
Mc Auly also provided the council with information about how often the building is used.
In 2013 the building was rented 72 times. It was rented 54 times in 2014 and 42 times so far 2015. He noted that in June, July and part of August rentals are limited because of the gymnastics and wrestling program that takes place in the building.
Mc Auly said a few groups have contacted him about renting the building in the winter, but he hasn’t given them an answer because he’s waiting for a decision from the council about the future of the building.
Alderwoman Mary-Beth Kuester said the amount being paid per rental has to be considered and not just the number of rentals per year.
“I think to talk about the rentals as though they’re money makers, they definitely are not a money maker,” Kuester said.
Mc Auly said the reason the revenue amount for rentals is low is because the rental fees are low.
“We are very cheap when compared to a lot of other facilities,” Mc Auly said.
Alderman John Wilson said before any discussion takes place about remodeling the building, next year’s budget must be considered.
Alderman Steve Kettenhoven agreed to a point.
“If we continue to make budget cuts here for services that are provided for our public, if we don’t have any services down the road, we’re going to be in trouble,” said Kettenhoven. “Park and Rec isn’t always about making money.”
Alderman Brad Rokus said he agreed with Kettenhoven.
“The pool, the Rec Center, we need to operate them as efficiently as possible, but we shouldn’t go in with a mindset that that’s going to be our money maker,” Rokus said. “The cash register for communities is sewer, water and light.
Those are where you are supposed to be making money. The rest of the things you’re doing you’re providing services to the community for the betterment of your community, for the betterment of your residents.”
Kuester said by having the building, only one service is provided to the community, that being the Clintonville Food Pantry.
Kettenhoven asked Kuester how only one service is provided when there are numerous rentals of the building.
Rokus asked the council if the city motto should be changed to, “Closed?”
Rokus added that he was in favor of raising taxes in order to provide services to the city.
“If we can go through our financials and be as efficient as possible and still come up short, but we are doing things as efficiently as possible, sometimes those hard decisions are necessary,” Rokus said.
Rokus, who was voted to the council this year, added that the previous council didn’t make the hard decisions when the budget was discussed last year.
“I don’t want to pay more, but if we have to, we have to do it as smartly and intelligently as possible,” Rokus said.
Alderman Jim Krause said Mc Auly’s office should be moved to a different building, and then maintain the Rec Center for just the food pantry. “Why would we waste that kind of money so one department head can have an office on the second floor,” Krause said.
Mc Auly said his office doesn’t have to be in the Rec. Center building. He wants to have the building available for the community to rent.
The future of the building will continue to be discussed.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, Dave Schmidt, vice president and acting president of the Clintonville Food Pantry, addressed the council. He stated that the food pantry would like to stay in the Rec Center building.
“It is a very good place, a cheap place for the pantry,” Schmidt said.
He said the overhead door with the ramp at the building works “perfectly” for hauling in the 80,000 pounds of food during the year.
“We don’t have a lot of money. And if we have to move into a building where we have to pay rent it is going to affect the food we’re able to give out to our recipients,” Schmidt said.