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Frequently Asked Questions About The Rec District

By: Jim Martinsen, Treasurer, Committee for our Community Center

Why is the Recreation District proposing to demolish the Elementary School rather than remodel it?

The decision to tear down the old elementary school was a “dollars and cents” decision. The Neenan Company, under direction of the Recreation Board, researched several options including renovation of the old elementary school. The cost to renovate and to reconfigure the old elementary school space to meet the needs of recreational programs was 98 percent of the cost to construct a new but smaller building.

As a rule of thumb, when remodeling costs run from 60 percent to 75 percent of new construction, it is better to start over than to remodel. And in this case, the remodeling approach would not have included a full sized gym. (The gym at the old elementary school was suitable only for children, not adults). The cost for new construction of the entire Community Center is $13,840,000 and includes a full sized gym.

The cost for remodeling is $13,650,000 (98 percent of new construction) but does not include a full sized gym that can be used both by children and adults. The new construction alternative is the most cost effective approach.

What are some of the changes that would be involved in remodeling?

Many of the changes would be structural. Relocating the load bearing walls to accommodate the needs of the new uses of the building are impractical. Some spaces are too small for ADA requirements but enlargement is again impractical. Within the old elementary school there is a floor elevation change of approximately three feet, limiting areas usable for recreational program spaces. And of course the gymnasium is too low, too short and too narrow for use by adults.

None of the restroom fixtures are ADA compliant and are inappropriately located for the new recreational areas. All of the mechanical air handling systems must be replaced due to age and existing ductwork replaced to meet new demands.

The old elementary school is not energy efficient. The walls are below current state energy standards as are the windows and doors. There is no foundation insulation. And although the roof itself is in good condition there are limitations for insulating the roof.

The building was built as a school in several stages. Its conversion to a recreation and community center is not cost effective.

What happens if the school district needs more space for students?

When the school board decided to close the old elementary school and expand the current primary school, it took historical trends into account. The new elementary school was built to accommodate the largest number of elementary-aged children the district has ever had. The new primary school building could accommodate an additional 150 elementary students over its current enrollment.

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