Galesburg IL Weigh 4 Community Centers, Library, Hawthorne

GALESBURG — Galesburg City Council reviewed four possible locations for a new community center during a Monday evening business session.

The four locations – the Galesburg Public Library, Churchill Junior High School, Hawthorne Recreation Center and an empty site at 600 E. Main St. – each offered different benefits and costs, but the council did not ended the working session with a decision made on which site the city should move forward with.

The sites were presented by Caius Jennison of the Farnsworth Group, a Peoria-based architecture and engineering firm. The city hired Farnsworth Group in June to determine city priorities and create a “master plan” of potential locations for a new community center.

Based on these priorities, the Farnsworth Group identified that the four different locations should be able to accommodate a gymnasium, a community hall capable of hosting a 200 person event and various community spaces for things like classrooms, storage, offices , a resource center, kitchen, teen center, computer lab and multimedia studio.

The Galesburg Public Library, 40 E. Simmons St.

Galesburg Public Library, 40 E. Simmons St., cheapest option

The Farnsworth Group estimated that renovating the current Galesburg Public Library into a community center might be the cheapest option in town at $4.91 million.

The building — which will no longer serve as the city’s public library once construction of the new Galesburg Public Library is complete in 2023 — contains a total of 33,630 square feet. The Farnsworth plan calls for renovating only 16,000 square feet for the community center and leaving the basement and upper floor unused.

Jennison noted that the library building is downtown and familiar to the public. First Ward council member Bradley Hix also noted that the city has in recent years invested money to help upgrade the building’s HVAC system.

The downside of the library is that the building lacks nearby parking to accommodate large community events and lacks the space to hold a full gymnasium. The building would instead contain a “fitness area”.

The study’s estimate that acquiring the library building from the Galesburg Public Library Foundation would cost $500,000 is factored into the library’s $4.91 million price tag.

Acting Galesburg City Manager Wayne Carl said the library board could charge more for the building, up to $1.5 million. Although the cost of acquiring the library building may also be reduced due to the loans the Galesburg Public Library still holds from the city.

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Hawthorne Pool in Galesburg.

Space to expand at Hawthorne Center, 2265 Veterans Dr.

The Farnsworth Group estimated that renovating the Hawthorne Center into a community center would cost the city $5.95 million.

The project would consist of building a new 14,000 square foot community center between the center’s existing pool and gymnasium, as well as renovating the existing gymnasium and constructing a new parking lot.

Jennison noted that the property is currently owned by the city and contains an existing gymnasium, which keeps costs down. Additionally, there is room to expand if desired and the city has already recently decided to invest in the renovation of the Hawthorne Pool.

One downside is that the Hawthorne Center is not centrally located, and it might be difficult for a “significant portion” of the city’s population to access the community center. Provision of bus or transportation service may cost the city an unknown additional amount.

Jennison said the Hawthorne Center would likely serve more as a sports or fitness center than a community center.

Churchill Junior High School, 905 Maple Ave., offers an auditorium, gym

The Farnsworth Group estimated that renovating Churchill Junior High School into a community center would cost the city $6 million.

The school building, which Galesburg School District 205 donated to the city for $1, is empty and contains a total of 90,000 square feet. The Farnsworth plan only details the 20,500 square foot renovation. The east side of the building, where many classrooms inhabit, could be demolished or left for future expansion suitable for a day care centre.

The school would provide an existing auditorium, a renovated gymnasium, a community hall, and a community center. The city also already owns the site and the acres of land surrounding it.

However, if renovated, the building’s boilers, HVAC, sprinklers and asbestos removal would need to be updated. And if the east side is not demolished, its exterior facade will need to be repaired and it could be costly to maintain temperature control of the unused space to prevent the pipes from freezing.

Build the most expensive new center: Gunther Site, 600 E. Main St.

The Farnsworth Group estimated that constructing an entirely new building for a community center would be the city’s most expensive option at $8.71 million.

Called Gunther Site, the project would consist of acquiring and transforming industrial land located south of Main Street and west of Allens Avenue, near a railway line.

The project would provide 6,500 square feet and build a complete new gymnasium, new space for the community center and improve the site’s boardwalk and driveway. The location would also contain potential for future development, such as playgrounds, but this would likely require the demolition of some existing structures and therefore more funding.

Other proposed places

Hix and Fourth Ward council member Dwight White each offered a location that has not been investigated by the Farnsworth Group, but which they would like to see considered as a possible site for a community center.

Hix suggested that 820 E. 5th St. be considered and White suggested that Cooke Elementary School at 849 S. Henderson St. be considered in order to develop a community center closer to residents on the south side of town. .

Carl said after the working session that board members would now review the information provided by the Farnsworth Group and, at a meeting in the coming weeks, would discuss whether to move forward with a specific location. or to conduct a more in-depth study.

Jill E. Washington