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Alternate Proposal For A Community Center

By Staff | Jul 26, 2012

Leading a group of more than two dozen, Pete Hamilton addressed Emmetsburg City Council with proposals for what the Concerned Citizens of Emmetsburg call South Bay Community Center. The proposal was made at the Monday, July 23, City Council meeting.

“We were here back on May 14 and discussed several items that concerned us as citizens of the city of Emmetsburg,” said Hamilton. “One of them was the proposal, at the time, for the community center that was just basically not being accepted by the community.”

At Monday’s meeting, Hamilton presented another look at a community center. He acknowledged people who assisted the Concerned Citizens committee, including John Haywood, in the construction/design business; Rick Elbert, a local contractor, regarding construction costs; Tanya Householder, an Emmetsburg resident with an area architectural firm; David Sellers with MSH Architects; Mike Hermanson, Jerry Brennan and Dave Rouse.

Hamilton stated the committee is willing to work with, and has already met with three people from ECDC. They would be willing to meet with these people again to form specific purposes of the building.

“We need to know what this building’s function is, what the purpose is,” said Hamilton. “We’re going to try to be very specific as we talk about this.”

Hamilton read the Concerned Citizens mission statement: “Every community needs a focal point, a place to come together, a facility all members of the community can take ownership in and be proud of. Our community center should first and foremost help bond the community of Emmetsburg and Palo Alto County.”

A priority of ECDC, expressed to Hamilton and group, is to showcase Five Island Lake. He told the council that the city should spend money for signage to alert travelers that Emmetsburg has a lake.

He also read the purpose of the proposed community center: “The purpose of our community center will be to provide the residents of Emmetsburg with a facility for meetings, fund raising events, a beautiful setting for socializing, and an area to just come and enjoy the view of our beautiful lake.”

Hamilton outlined more than a dozen types of events the Concerned Citizens think should be held at the community center.

Fund raising cook-outs – “The VFW does a great job in the winter, fall and early spring to raise funds for local organizations. Maybe our center could be something where local organizations could go for fundraising cookouts.”

Golf outings “Every venue that we visited had a golf course attached to it. We still have a golf course there and I think the city was wise to buy back the property to keep the golf course. Whether you play golf or don’t play golf, it’s an asset. A lot of the events that we foresee are going to be around the golf course.”

Musical events.

Limited lakeside dining accessible by boat “We are firmly on the side that it should have limited dining. Going back to your original study that the Hanser group did, that was by far the largest response for an amenity by about 83-percent. Find someone to lease it or talk to local restaurant owners and get them involved.”

Family and class reunions.

Summer heritage festival and all city reunion “Showcase what we have.”

Palo Alto County talent show.

Boat and pontoon tours “I’m surprised at how many people who live in Emmetsburg have never been on the lake or have been on a very limited amount. I would be willing, and other people, too, to give boat and pontoon tours once a month in the summer.”

Kayak, canoe and paddle boat races.

Kids fishing tournaments.

Bike around the lake event “Would highlight part of our bike route when we get it done.”

Anniversary and wedding celebrations.

Senior citizens monthly dinners.

“These are all kind of things we think would be a great way to showcase the proposal,” said Hamilton. “Our vision is a complex that is large enough to handle most events and a facility that can be expanded in the future if necessary If it’s wildly successful then we’ll be able to afford expansion. It would be a very slight mistake if we under-build. If we over-build to the tune of 3 or 4 or 5,000 square feet and it’s under utilized that’s a huge mistake. That’s a $750,000 mistake.

Proposals for South Bay Community Center call for approximately 5,000 square feet; seating for 200 to 250 people inside; seating for 125-150 on a covered patio or screened in porch; bar and grill area for limited lakeside dining, with a small kitchen; dock and deck area for the lake that will help showcase the lake; gazebo down by the lake to serve boaters, campers and golfers when the center is rented; play area for small children; flower gardens and landscape to enhance the area, utilizing volunteers; use local contractors and suppliers when possible; and, save as many of the oak trees as possible.

Hamilton gave a powerpoint presentation of a proposed building designed by Dave Sellers, partner in MSH Architects. “He knows the area, loves the area where the current clubhouse is and the whole atmosphere. He sent the plans to Cliff Hinrichs, his father-in-law,” said Hamilton. “This is an example of a little bit smaller structure with some multi uses.”

The main entry would face the parking lot, with a door for golfers and the general public opposite the number 9 green of the golf course. An office and bar/grill area overlook number 9 and the lake. The gazebo would act as an overflow for golfers, campers and boaters. The deck would have tables, chairs and umbrellas, equipped with grills.

“I talked to the Junior College landscaping instructor Kevin and he would be excited about having his group help with building some planters,” said Hamilton. “I’d like to contact the garden clubs in Palo Alto County to do some perennial gardens to really make this place stand out… A covered deck area, with portable screening, becomes another area to sit and relax and enjoy the lake. There is a lot of flexibility of the area.”

Hamilton said the Concerned Citizens committee is going to meet again with ECDC members Tony Kauten, Kirk Haack and Kelly Bay. He noted that architects have stated before beginning interior design work, know what the building is going to do.

“If we’re talking about a 5,000 square foot building, that’s $750,000 using the figures of the current ECDC at $150 per square foot, versus a million and a half dollars,” said Hamilton. “The land costs are going to be the same. The fact that you’re going to tear down the old building. Those costs remain the same. This is only the building cost.”

He noted that amenities such as a gazebo and dock area could be built with donated funds. There is no cost estimate on this aspect, just ideas at this point.

“If we cut down on the size of the building, we can add more amenities to the outside to create a much more dynamic operation,” said Hamilton. “We visited Okoboji View, Brookes, Emerald Hills, Spencer Muni every place that has a golf course. Most of their cooking is done with grills and all recommended a very small kitchen.”

City Administrator John Bird asked if there had been feedback from the VFW since this proposal is much closer in size to seating at the VFW facility.

“This would be similar in size as far as number, but no, I have not (had any feedback),” answered Ham-ilton. “One of the things we want to do, when talking about summer cookouts, is to complement what the VFW does in the wintertime.”

He added, “This is going to be a competition once you start down this path. It’s going to be competition with the casino. It’s going to be competition with the VFW and any other facility. Once you determine that you’re going to have a community center, you’re going to have competition. In the wintertime I can see this slowing down considerably with the amount of events. Let’s face it, the lake is a big ice cube.”

Hamilton suggested returning to the City Council in 30 days with something more concrete regarding the purpose and function of a community center.

“One of the problems, we’ve gotten the cart before the horse,” he said. “Before we start with internal drawings, we need to get together and hammer out what we really want to do.”