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City, school officials review proposed joint rec center plan

Project could go to school district referendum in April 2020
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The estimated cost of a proposed joint city and school district recreation center was placed at anywhere from $24 million to $28 million, as currently envisioned, according to a consultant contracted by the Shawano School District.

An early draft of the design layout and projected costs were presented Wednesday to the Shawano School Board, Shawano Common Council and the city’s park and recreation commission.

“These are not final plans,” said Park and Recreation Director Matt Hendricks. “But we do feel that at this point in time that it’s a tangible plan that we can get feedback from the community and then drive from there.”

One of the questions the city will be asking before it commits to the project, Hendricks said, is whether the new facility would continue everything the city recreation center is already doing and everything the community wants.

The proposed facility would be located adjacent to Shawano Community High School, on the north side of the building, and would include the school’s existing competition pool.

It would add a separate community pool area; a fitness area, including weights and cardiovascular equipment; a multi-purpose space; gymnasium; racquetball court; and indoor multi-purpose facility and walking track; as well as offices, bathrooms, lockers, storage and other amenities.

“When we started looking at it, we wanted to make sure certainly that we’re including all of the necessary components for all the various stakeholders,” said Melanie Parma, senior project manager for Somerville, the architectural firm hired by the school district.

Craig Uhlenbrauck, vice president of education for Miron Construction, said the range of $24 million to $28 million was still preliminary at this point.

“At this point right now, we haven’t defined exactly how it’s going to be constructed, what types of materials are going to be used, what types of systems are going to be put in place mechanically and electrically and that type of stuff,” he said.

According to school district Business Manager Louise Fischer, the tax impact of taking on debt for the project would be 90 cents per $1,000 of equalized valuation at the high end, depending on which scenario the district went with in terms of borrowing.

The 90 cents per $1,000, or $90 on a $100,000 home, assumes borrowing of $30 million at a 5 percent interest rate and repayment of the debt over 20 years.

Fischer called that a worst-case scenario.

“We don’t believe it’s going to go anywhere near $30 million,” she said. “But if we’re going to do this, we want to do it right. We don’t want to cut corners.”

School Board President Michael Sleeper said the reason the district is in this situation is because corners were cut when Shawano Community High School was designed and built in the late 1990s. He said the weight room and wrestling practice area were particularly impacted.

“It was pretty clear it was insufficient for the needs at that time, and that became more apparent as time went on,” he said.

The proposed project will have to go a district referendum, probably in April 2020, before it could move forward.

Uhlenbrauck laid out a timeline of what would happen between now and then.

Approval would be needed in the next month or two from the council and school board to enter into an agreement and move forward.

“Once we get that approval we want to continue to get feedback from the community and businesses as well,” Uhlenbrauck said.

From July through September, work would continue to refine the core concept and finalize the scope of the project, he said.

As the new school year starts this fall, a communitywide survey would be put together to gauge interest and support for the project. The survey would probably go out to the public in October, Uhlenbrauck said.

Results would be presented to the school board, council and park and recreation commission late this year.

“Pending those survey results, then we would take December through January to start to refine the concept based on that feedback, continue to engage the community, and then ultimately the board of education would have to adopt a resolution to go to referendum,” Uhlenbrauck said.

Officials got a smattering of community feedback at Wednesday’s meeting, with about half of the two dozen audience members who attended sharing their thoughts and questions.

Most were in favor of the project, but some had mixed feelings, including the employee of a local fitness center who said such a facility could put private fitness centers in the community out of business.

Another speaker said she felt it was the wrong time for the school district to be making this a priority.

The park and recreation commission voted to recommend to the council that the city enter into an agreement with the school district for the proposed facility.