City officials reaffirm desire for community center project

Thursday, December 2, 2021
Artists renderings of the proposed Greencastle Community Center project.
Courtesy Bona Vita Architecture

Doubling down on previous commitments to build a community center/YMCA project, Greencastle city officials agreed to move forward with the project during a joint session of the City Council and Redevelopment Commission Tuesday night.

After listening to representatives of its construction management firm, Tonn & Blank Construction, and the architects, Bona Vita Architecture, detail the proposed community center to be built on land the city has already acquired east of the Walmart Superstore off Indianapolis Road, the Council voted 5-1 to move ahead with the project, while the Redevelopment Commission (RDC) voted 3-0 toward that same end.

The Council vote was 5-1 with Mark Hammer, Adam Cohen, Stacie Langdon, Veronica Pejril and Dave Murray voting in favor of moving forward and adding a third gymnasium to the design as a alternate bid. Cody Eckert cast the lone dissenting vote, saying he was “wary about it (moving forward)” with the increase seen in construction costs. Councilman Jake Widner attended the meeting via Zoom, which according to a new state statute, makes him ineligible to vote.

On a motion by Gwen Morris, the RDC produced a unanimous result with Erika Gilmore and Lottie Barcus also in favor. RDC member Drew Brattain was absent. Like Widner, Gary Lemon attended via Zoom, making him ineligible to vote as an RDC member.

That didn’t prevent Lemon from wrapping up discussion on a high note.

“From my perspective, it’s either now or never,” Lemon said. “If we don’t do it now, it’s not going to happen in my lifetime.

“We’ve been talking about this, it seems, forever,” he continued. “This is the right thing. It will improve the community. There’s real momentum to get this thing done.”

Councilman Widner agreed.

“I do definitely think it’s a now-or-never situation,” he offered.

Mayor Bill Dory said he has been part of calls to local industry for support and has been “very excited” about the response. He pointed out that a presentation had been made to the Putnam County Community Foundation, which Wednesday night announced a half-million-dollar commitment to the project.

Councilman Eckert, however, said he remained “hesitant to go forward” at this time. He voiced concern over how the construction costs, estimated at $8 to $10 million 18 months ago could be more than $15 million today.

“I think we need to do this to make this a healthier community,” Councilor Stacie Langdon said, envisioning senior citizens actively using the facility for a Silver Sneakers program. “I don’t know how we can not do this,” she added. “We’ve been planning so long and saving so long.”

“It might not be the right time to reach out to do it,” Eckert responded.

Eckert also asked how many memberships would be necessary to make the project a success.

It would take 1,500-2,000 members with the monthly fee likely in the $50-60 range, Wabash Valley YMCA representative Ryan Penrod said.

“Our ‘Y’ feels very comfortable with that number,” Penrod added. “We have that in Brazil right now, and that’s with 26,000 (residents) in Clay County, while Putnam has what, 38,000?”

Mayor Dory noted that while Greencastle is making the community center an investment, it will be open for everyone in Putnam County to use the facilities.

A budget presented by Matt Hubbard and Scott Wells of Tonn & Blank puts the total project cost at $13,232,562 (which includes a $1 million contingency fee). That was without the third basketball space added to the east end of the building (estimated at $2,833,576), an option that produced the most discussion Tuesday night, leading to its inclusion as a bid alternate.

Councilman Murray asked what causes “that kind of increase” for including a third basketball court?

That third court, which would also provide a larger open space for community events, would also include increased space on the second-floor track area above it as well as additional HVAC needs.

“We’re building this for a 50- to 60-year run,” Councilman Cohen noted, advocating for the third court to provide more volleyball space and a prime spot for planned or community events.

Tom Salzer of Bona Vita Architects noted that “every ‘Y’ we’ve ever done wished they had that third court,” adding that it’s cheaper and easier to do it initially than coming back later to add another court.

With clubs and AAU teams often renting basketball space in such facilities, that third court also means potential additional revenue, it was noted.

The present configuration of the community center/wellness center shows 37,808 square feet with an additional 10,586 square feet for the third gym and about 11,000 square feet in the ground-floor center section for Putnam County Hospital to have facilities that are expected to include a prompt care center. That totals 59,394 square feet.

With the renewed commitment to the project, a new timetable emerged that begins with about 90 days of additional engineering and design, particularly in regard to the third gymnasium.

After that it will be turned over to Tonn & Blank to go out for bids to subcontractors and suppliers, about a six-week process.

“And you’re looking at a 12- to 14-month range for construction,” Salzer added.

That would put project completion sometime mid-year or later in 2023, Council President Hammer reasoned.

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  • I have to go with Cody Eckert on this. The estimated cost has doubled in mere months and even at 15 million there should be doubts it will actually be completed for that amount.

    -- Posted by goingon80 on Fri, Dec 3, 2021, at 8:45 AM
  • I agree "it’s a now-or-never situation." First heard of the YMCA talk in high school in the 80's. Can only imagine how much lower it would have cost back then. Just take the leap of faith. Its needed and has been needed for many years for all age groups health and happiness. GET UR DONE ALREADY!

    -- Posted by dustiedog on Fri, Dec 3, 2021, at 11:20 AM
  • The county will get drug in on this meanwhile the county roads continue to deteriorate into ruin.

    -- Posted by Avenger1234 on Fri, Dec 3, 2021, at 12:39 PM
  • Based on inflation rates, 16m today would have been approximately 6.6m in 1985 so question is- would it have cost 6.6m to build in 1985?

    -- Posted by beg on Fri, Dec 3, 2021, at 3:31 PM
  • Here is an idea- have the recently passed infrastructure bill pay for it!!!!

    -- Posted by beg on Fri, Dec 3, 2021, at 3:32 PM
  • *

    Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    -- Posted by Bunny1E on Fri, Dec 3, 2021, at 3:34 PM
  • *

    It ain't gonna get any cheaper.

    I'm not a fan of most government projects but this one I believe to be worthwhile for the community, so long as the community funds it.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Sun, Dec 5, 2021, at 5:01 PM
  • The community centers are the SCHOOLS in every community in the entire county.

    If you don't see that, look at the community dollars that are concentrated there now. Everything is there. Parking, location, infrastructure, even the pool.

    Tax dollars have already been spent for the very goals of having a community center.

    This project is already built.

    Access should be gratefully granted considering who will/is paying the bills.

    -- Posted by direstraits on Mon, Dec 6, 2021, at 8:12 AM
  • Agree completely with Direstraits. There is not an indoor swimming facility open to the public in this county, nor is there one planned for the new community center. For many, due to arthritis, weight issues, etc., swimming is the only form of exercise they can pursue. This needs to be addressed with our current taxpayer funded facilities at NPHS, GHS, and SPHS. We deserve access. Other facilities too. The fields and track at GHS are completely locked down, almost prison like, from public access. Thank goodness for DePauw, keeping their outdoor track (and at times, their indoor track) open for community use. The community has not paid a single penny to use the DePauw facilities, but they are more accessible than facilities we have paid for with our tax dollars. The school boards need to address this.

    -- Posted by 3m50 on Mon, Dec 6, 2021, at 8:59 AM
  • *

    Direstraits / 3m50 - you both make excellent points that I hadn't even considered.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Mon, Dec 6, 2021, at 8:25 PM
  • Hold on guys, you will apparently be subjected to critical race theory teachings if you enter a public school. You also could be subjected to a book burning, at least in Texas where that glue on fire smells pretty bad, I would assume. I’d be extremely wary of that. Or at least the talking heads on one side would have you believe. The other side would have you eating whole wheat biscuits with vegan stuff in between them while you pay more for health care and higher taxes to boot. The Prince would starve to death without his McDonalds while the others are out of their mind screaming at school officials and planning a coup at the next school board meeting while a pride parade and Antifa protest is forming. If you do your research this might be a bad idea.

    Food for thought.

    -- Posted by Koios on Mon, Dec 6, 2021, at 10:16 PM
  • So, would one of the local schools want to claim this product as one of their own?

    His real name is MISTER(?) STATS

    ...as usual...delusional

    .

    .

    .

    nah, I didn't think so

    -- Posted by direstraits on Mon, Dec 6, 2021, at 11:24 PM
  • *

    I don't think the public school system's infrastructure could possibly sustain the planned efforts by Putnam County Hospital for providing on-site rehabilitative care services.

    It was just not designed for that.

    -- Posted by Bunny1E on Tue, Dec 7, 2021, at 10:12 AM
  • Valid point, I didn't realize that PCH was going to be that big of a piece in the puzzle.

    Better get that exercise pool included ASAP.

    I believe small hospitals in general are going to be under the fiscal gun when the covid money dries up.

    Be careful the design of a horse by committee doesn't end up looking like a donkey, or more likely, a big ole camel.

    -- Posted by direstraits on Tue, Dec 7, 2021, at 10:56 AM
  • South Putnam, and then Purdue, if you must know.

    -- Posted by Koios on Tue, Dec 7, 2021, at 11:34 AM
  • Bunny1E,

    last time i checked the hospital is it's own business (non profit but still a business). So if they see a need then why can't they just make it happen on their own property? The city / county could even discuss tax abatement for that provided that they hospital can provide documentation that it's needed and a community benefit. This would be significantly cheaper than the community center.

    Additionally, i think the attitude of "if not now when" / "we've spent so much time saving and planning" is really a horrible reason to approve a project. This is just potentially throwing good money after bad. The project needs to stand on its own merits at this time and must justify the costs. Maybe it still does but the attitude of the redevelopment commission members doesn't provide a lot of confidence that they've considered this (minus Cody who seems to at least understand this).

    Finally, while i understand not limiting the use of this center to city residents, since the city is fronting the money and taking all the risk on this project i would suggest that non-city residents need to pay a higher user fee.

    -- Posted by hometownboy on Tue, Dec 7, 2021, at 3:24 PM
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