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Community Center Update from the City Manager

April 12, 2019 — Earlier this week the City Council directed staff to develop plans for a new community center at the Valley View complex. For the past year or so we have been focused on the area around Civic Plaza and the existing Creekside Community Center, so the emergence of Valley View as an option may be surprising to some. I want to quickly explain that and give you an idea what will be happening in the next couple months.

In discussing the building design and what features may be included in it, the City Council was concerned that the Civic Plaza site and the Creekside site were both too small to accommodate the facility without adding a lot of cost to the project for structured parking. Also, in discussing the desire to have aquatics in the community center (such as a lap pool, zero depth entry, and possibly indoor/outdoor kids’ waterplay areas), the City Council discussed whether it made sense to have two aquatics locations since we have the Family Aquatic Center (FAC) at Valley View.

The pool vessel at the FAC is planned for replacement in a few years at a cost of roughly $12 million (in 2026 dollars). We have been saving money for that replacement and have nearly $5 million dollars on hand. The Council and staff agree that replacing the entire FAC with a community center that also has year-round aquatics is a better long-term investment than the nearly $1 million a year subsidy (operations and capital reserve) for a pool that is open less than three months of the year.

The community center at Valley View also provides an opportunity to create more integrated recreational programming that takes advantage of the other assets already there; more than what we could by just replacing Creekside on its site.  

We have a lot to do in a short period of time. We will be reaching out to neighbors around Valley View to share this information and get their input. We will be putting out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for architect services, which will include active public engagement in the design process. And we will be presenting options to the City Council regarding costs for the project and how to pay for it if the Council decides to move ahead. 

There will be a Town Hall Forum on Tuesday, April 23 at 7 p.m. in the Schneider Theater at the Bloomington Center for the Arts. That event will also be available on Facebook Live. Mayor Winstead and I, along with the City Council, will be reviewing the State of the City and answering questions.  We won’t be exclusively focused on the community center that evening, but it will be the next opportunity to hear more about our efforts to replace Creekside with a community center that serves everyone for the next couple generations.

— Jamie Verbrugge, Bloomington City Manager