Fenton Community Center Needs Highlight Council Meeting
City has budgeted $300,000 plus $60,000 in grant money, for fire suppression and handicap accessibility; donors have given for an addition — and wiring, heating and air conditioning need replacing.
City Council's discussion of the Fenton Community and Cultural Center (FCCC) helped answer some council members' questions and generated a list of more information they would like.
Funding for three separate issues came to the forefront — $300,000 the city budgeted for the center, plus around $60,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money the city could use at the center; second, $500,000-600,000 for repairs inside the building; and approximately $275,000 (plus pledges when the shovel hits the ground) from donors for an addition onto the center.
The $300,000, which Fenton council has budgeted for but not approved the expenditure of, is for a fire suppression system at the FCCC, a core addition to hold a new elevator and handicap-accessible bathrooms, said Mayor Sue Osborn. In addition, the CDBG money expires in April 2012, so the elevator project needs to begin by then.
Councilwoman Cheryl King said, "I'd hate to lose that money."
It's a tight schedule, but it can be done, City Manager Lynn Markland said.
Osborn said she believes the elevator addition and handicap-accessibility work, and the FCCC Board of Governors' addition onto the building should take place at one time. It would make the construction less expensive and get the work done, she said. In addition, it's possible the inside repairs could take place as well. This would include new wiring, heating and cooling.
Fenton could take out a loan for these repairs, Osborn suggested.
The community center's fundraising people will provide the money for their addition onto the center. "These repairs are our responsibility," she said.
The FCCC has no fire suppression system. "That building, it needs to be done," Osborn said.
Councilman Tim Faricy said he is not against the community center. "I'm for a well-thought-out plan that gives us information that the Community Center openly serves the city of Fenton, is transparent in its dealings and provides a service to citizens that is sustainable in the future."
He suggested combining the FCCC, Loose Senior Center (which suffered a fire on Friday) and Southern Lakes Parks and Recreation into a committee to determine the best approach for the future with these organizations. Then, Faricy said a professional study could be funded to look at community needs. Once the study was complete, he'd invite Fenton Township, Tyrone Township and Linden to participate, since it should serve residents of these communities as well as the city of Fenton.
Spreading costs among those who use the FCCC could be done by charging resident and nonresident rates for renting the facility, Osborn said.
Faricy questioned the $120,000 in reserves the FCCC has. It's a lot of cash, he said. And he asked about past fundraising for the center.
The fundraising was for an addition to the center, Osborn said.
Pat Lockwood, who with Bob Burek co-chaired the fundraising effort for an addition to the FCCC, attended the council work session Monday as a member of the audience, but Osborn permitted her to answer some questions for council. People donated the money for an addition to the center, not for repairs. The addition donors supported will include classrooms for cultural opportunities, Lockwood said. There is, for tax reasons, approximately $275,000 in donations for the FCCC addition placed in the Greater Flint Community Foundation, under the Fenton Community Foundation. In addition to this, there are pledges others have promised, when there's a shovel in the ground for the addition.
"They are prepared to write a check," she said. "They want to see results."
The Fenton Village Players, for example, made a donation for an addition to the FCCC but later moved on to their own location, she said.
"We are not asking the city for addition money," Lockwood said.
Faricy asked what the Board of Governors was asking for, and how the money would be used.
Lockwood said the city would fund the fire suppression system, handicap-accessible restrooms and update the elevator, which is not usable. The community center fundraising committee could "piggyback" its addition to the community center onto that project, to save money on both projects.
A 35- to 50-person committee is waiting to see what it should do next, she said. The Board of Governors for the community center is waiting to find out what Fenton will do.
Councilwoman Dianne North asked whether Fenton is paying Southern Lakes Parks & Recreation (SLPR) to manage the community center.
Osborn said the contract is with the FCCC Board of Governors and SLPR. Part of the money SLPR takes in pays for its management of the FCCC.
This has worked out very well for both parties, Markland said.
Council needs to meet with the FCCC Board of Governors president, Director Vince Paris from SLPR, and Burek and Lockwood, Osborn said. There could be a special meeting on the community center.
Council gave its agreement for this.
The safety issues, such as the wiring, need to be taken care of, King said.
The building needs new wiring throughout, Councilman Ben Smith said. "They are running fuses with pennies and dimes in them."