03/26/08 — Rec center planning fine-tuned

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Rec center planning fine-tuned

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on March 26, 2008 1:52 PM

Don't expect to buy a hot dog or nachos once the new Community Recreation Center opens.

The facility won't have a full kitchen facility, mostly because of the cost.

City staff members had said they would love to have the flexibility of a catering kitchen to provide more than just snack food for after-school programs, child care and events, but with an estimated price tag of about $12 million, some extras had to go, committee members said Tuesday.

When the prospect of actually preparing foods comes into play, a grease pit and a vent hood are necessary -- costs that would add more to the budget, Assistant City Manager Tasha Logan and Parks and Recreation Director Sonya Shaw agreed.

The center will have a counter area that will sell only pre-packaged foods and bottled drinks. The area will also have sinks and a microwave, and any other food that needs to be provided will be brought in already prepared.

Recreation Center Committee members met again Tuesday morning to further discuss issues that came up during last week's committee meeting.

One topic that was questioned at last Thursday's meeting was the depth of the proposed pool. The current design plans call for the majority of the pool to be 3 feet, with the diving and lifeguard training area to be 9 feet.

But committee members thought 3 feet to be less than adequate for lap swimmers and decided to ask the architectural firm designing the plans, Pearce, Brinkley, Cease + Lee, to go forward with changing the depth to between 4 and 5 feet as well as leaving an area to accommodate young children who will be taking swimming lessons.

Councilman Chuck Allen asked members to also look at the entrance to the building, from a traffic point of view.

Many people who turn from Center Street onto James Street may try to turn the sharp left to get to the drop-off area, so Allen proposed that they re-route the traffic by changing the directional pattern of James Street to one-way around that area.

Members agreed to have planning department staff look into the situation and suggest the best way to approach the possible traffic congestion.

The committee also discussed the several entrances to the building and who would be able to actually obtain entry of certain doors.

As of now, members decided to only have one entrance for the public to enter through and a few others to allow employees to enter through so as not to utilize the closest parking spaces and take them away from the public.

Information Technology Director Debbie Whetsell agreed to look into the cost of several alternatives to providing entry to the public. Swiping membership cards, buzzing people through the door and even a thumbprint program were all ideas the committee had, and they all agreed that however entry was provided, a photo identification of some sort needed to be implemented so that staff in the building could easily know who was using the building.

After the changes are submitted to Pearce, Brinkley, Cease + Lee, the architects will work with the plans and return to the committee within the next few months to confirm final changes. Fifty percent of the construction documents are considered finished, and the other 50 percent are expected to be complete by April with construction of the building beginning this summer.