By SAMANTHA PIDDE
Representatives from Russell and Streamline Architects presented several site locations and designs to the Mount Carroll City Council Tuesday, Aug. 24, for the William J. Davis Community Center which prompted questions and heated discussion among some of the council members.
With the city set to receive millions of dollars from the Davis Trust for the specific purpose of building a community center in his name, the council has been working on plans for such a facility, including a community survey last fall and the hiring of Russell to develop a feasibility study several months ago.
Russell Project Manager Lindsay Eisentrout along with Streamline representatives Andrew Dasso and Saloni Sheth presented several designs the team worked up for the community center. They said six designs were created, but they had only brought the three that they recommended.
These three included two different "base" designs to be placed near the West Carroll Middle School. The six proposals included two designs for a location north of WCMS and two designs for a spot south of WCMS.
The pairs included less costly "base" designs as well two higher-cost designs which included extra features such as an elevated track, lap pool and locker rooms, and a concession area. Mayor Carl Bates suggested the council start by considering the base plans and then look at adding services, which he equated to Lego blocks to attach to the base design.
Russell and Streamline also created designs for the former public school on Main Street and the Shimer Square property. Sheth and Mayor Bates noted problems with the availability of the old high school, saying they estimated the cost to acquire the property, if possible, could be as much as $1 million, plus another $500,000 or so for demolition and dirt work.
The last design showcased at the meeting was for a base plan only at Shimer Square. Sheth said this property did come with some challenges, particularly due to the trees and the ongoing projects that the Rock Island Economic Growth Corporation (GROWTH) is developing. She also noted the space has limited parking spaces and does not have enough space for some of the additional programming the city could include at the other spaces.
Russell presented the council with a Davis Center Locations Cost Comparison sheet, which identified the estimated square footage, construction cost (not including land purchase, demolition or legal fees) and operational costs for each design.
•Option A—Middle School North: 31,386 square feet; $10,198,857 for construction cost; $313,860 for operational costs.
•Option A1 (Base)—Middle School North: 19,082 square feet; $6,706,305 for construction cost; $190,820 for operational costs.
•Option B—Middle School South: 31,292 square feet; $10,268,731 for construction cost; $312,920 for operational costs.
•Option B1 (Base)—Middle School South: 19,180 square feet; $6,741,450 for construction cost; $191,800 for operational costs.
•Option C—Old public school: 30,405 square feet; $11,745,494 for construction cost; $304,050 for operational costs. Russell said the cost for a "base design at this property would be approximately $8 million.
•Option D (Base)—Shimer Square: 18,316 square feet; $6,905,242 for construction cost; $183,160 for operational costs.
That same sheet listed size and cost estimates for alternatives, including: 5,020 square feet and an additional $518,084 for an elevated track; 2,000 square feet and an additional $780,000 for a lap pool; 950 square feet and an additional $308,702 for a locker room and concessions.
Ald. Doug Bergren commented on some of these alternatives, noting that a daycare space was not listed as one of the alternatives. The council and Russell/Streamline earlier had discussed the fact that stakeholders in the focus group sessions had identified a need for daycare in Mount Carroll.
"Daycare was supposed to be an essential item," Bergren said.
Mayor Bates said daycare is needed, but he felt that to begin, the city needed to look at a base design to present to the Davis Trust trustees along with additions to be considered.
"I think we should present it as Lego pieces," he said said.
Bates said the city has been working with Little Sprouts daycare about a possible Mount Carroll location, but daycare representatives said they need between 7,500-9,000 square feet as well as an outside area designated just for the daycare. With that square footage, Eisentrout estimated the cost of adding a daycare to the community center at an additional $2.5-$3 million.
"I truly believe it is a foundational piece," said Bates about having a daycare center. "To me it comes down to location and cost.”
Bates said he is continuing to discuss with the daycare people how the cost could be shared. Ultimately, he said he does not want "to burden future councils" with owning a daycare, saying, "I am thinking of the burden on the community and the future.”
Ald. Nancy Bandemer asked if the daycare could start with a smaller space. Bates said the daycare representatives said that amount of square footage is needed due to guidelines and restrictions governing a daycare facility. He said they have indicated if a daycare center is available in Mount Carroll, they could have as many as 60 children immediately.
Ald. Mike Risko spoke against the inclusion of the Shimer Square property in the feasibility study and Russell's final report, noting that the city gave Russell four potential sites and Shimer was not one of them. He question the presenters on how and why it was added. Eisentrout said Mayor Bates, as well as a few members of the study's focus group suggested it be considered.
Risko questioned Eisentrout and the others regarding an email sent to him and Bates on Aug. 11, which he said stated that Russell was going to eliminate Shimer Square as a potential site. He asked what changed to have Shimer back on the list.
Eisentrout said their recommendation to eliminate Shimer Square as a site was due to not having enough space for some of the alternatives previously discussed. She said that after a conversation with the mayor, she was asked to include a base design for the location. Bates said the location is important to Mount Carroll and needs to be developed. He said he did not want to see it completely eliminated from discussion due to the challenges related to the site.
Risko voiced concerns about 20 trees possibly being taken down at Shimer Square for this design and Eisentrout said there is a lot more work needed on that option. Risko asked why Russell and Streamline "wasted" their time on presenting the Shimer Square option, to which Eisentrout said it is one potential option that might not happen, just like the old public school.
Risko handed out a document he prepared listing what he deemed as pros and cons for the WCMS location and the Shimer Square location. The sheet had only “pros” for the middle school site and only “cons” for Shimer. The mayor and several council members said the document is Risko's opinion. In regards to an item on Risko's list relating to the Shimer site being in a residential area, City Clerk Lisa Lewis noted she resides in a residential area next to WCMS.
Risko said he could not see a single “pro” for Shimer Square that outweighed the WCMS site. Eisentrout said they have heard that some want it at Shimer due to the proximity of the center of Mount Carroll and the walking area, as well as due to the proposed GROWTH housing projects.
Bergren agreed that Shimer Square is "more centrally located," adding, "Listen Mike, you've been pushing for the school since day one," Ald. Bergren .
Bergren said he feels West Carroll does not take care of its school buildings due to funding issues, which Ald. Paul Kaczmarski quickly disputed.
Bergren asked what will happen if the city puts in a multi-million dollar community center next to WCMS and in 25 years it looks like the high school in Savanna, saying, "I have a real problem with that.”
Kaczmarski said WCMS first opened in 1998 and looks as good, if not better today than it did then.
Mayor Bates criticized Risko for presenting the list and for his line of questioning, noting that until that night, Risko was the only member of the council to have seen Russell's report. He said it was unfair and unprofessional for Risko to try to force his opinion on the council.
Bates said more discussion is needed and Russell's final report should be presented to the community, but Risko said the council cannot keep kicking the matter down the road, saying, "The community has had its input; we have to make a decision.”
Bates suggested the council hold a special public meeting before the next council meeting on Sept. 14, agreeing with Risko that the council cannot put off making a decision indefinitely.
"I don't think it's fair to not involve the community," Bates said, to which Ald. Joe Grim agreed that a public meeting is needed idea.
The council agreed to set the public community meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9, in the Kraft Building.