Group favors new over remodel

TRACY CITY COUNCIL MEMBER JERI SCHONS (left) speaks during last week’s Community Center Workforce Group meeting in the basement of the Tracy Public Library as CCWG member Audrey Koopman listens. The 12-member group widely favors building a new center, not remodeling an existing building. Photo Per Peterson

Community Center Workforce Group members made it clear last week that they would rather build a new center than spend money on remodeling an existing structure

By Per Peterson

The 12-member Community Center Workforce Group on Thursday took a big step in the ongoing — and often frustrating — process of building a community center.

A show of hands was requested at Thursday’s meeting to see how many of the 12-member group support moving forward with a brand-new building. The group, which consists of five community members and the Tracy City Council, showed its overwhelming approval on focusing on building new; out of the dozen members, everyone with the exception of council member Seth Schmidt and CCWG member Tony Peterson showed support for building new.

Peterson said residents he has spoken with are “adamantly opposed to new construction” unless the City comes up with a way to pay for it. “Not that they’re opposed to new construction,” he said, “but they’re opposed (because of) not having the money to pay for it. They’re not going to vote to raise taxes. We need to come up with a way to raise money.”

A resolution of council support to build a new center, as opposed to any kind of remodel of a current structure in town, will be brought forth at the Oct. 25 city council meeting, since a new center will, in part, be supported by City funds. At that time, the council will conduct an official vote to move forward with a plan to build new, with the expectation that aside from the $139,000 already set aside in the City’s coffer, monies for a new building will be attained through fundraising/donations and other potential sources; a foundation is planned for tax purposes. The original pot of money set aside was $144,000; $5,500 was spent on a facilities study by ISG, and a $500 donation brought the total back up to $139,000.

“From the staff’s perspective, we’re mostly agnostic,” Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said at Thursday’s meeting. “We just want somebody to make a decision and stick with it. And we want the community to support it. Our concern is whatever decision is made, some people will not like it and that could hinder any fundraising efforts. I strongly recommend that the council borrow no money.”

Hansen said costs are the main concern — not just the cost of putting up a building, but the costs of maintaining and staffing it in the future.

The group Thursday discussed the formation of a foundation to help do just that. Peterson said that should be a first step in the process, and then the fundraising can begin and plans can be defined.

“You can’t say, ‘I want this’ and, ‘We’ll look at that’ until you have a checkbook that says we can afford it,” said Peterson.

Peterson, along with Jeanine Vandendriessche, Shirley Anderson, Ken Witt and Audrey Koopman, were appointed to the CCWG earlier this year by the city council.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.