Archive for Thursday, November 3, 2005

Second session brings slower pace for center

November 3, 2005

After last Wednesday night's meeting of various community interests -- most notably the Baldwin City Council, Baldwin School Board and Baker University -- it was decided that any possible project for a community center needed the help of a consultant.

"The consensus from the meeting was that to have any chance of success with a project of this size, we need professional help," said Scott Lauridsen, school board member. "Baker's Dan Harris (athletic director) provided several examples of how they learned this lesson on some of their projects. The next step is to hear from a contact Dan had that participated in a very large project for a Warrensburg, Mo., and Central Missouri State University community center.

"We will also be discussing how we might select and jointly fund a consultant to help with the feasibility aspect of the project," said Lauridsen.

He said the meeting, which was smaller in scope than last week's initial "meeting of the minds," went well. City Council Member Amy Cleavinger agreed with that assessment and especially the addition of representatives from the Rainbow Experience Preschool being in attendance, unlike the first meeting.

"We had a good discussion and received some good feedback from the preschool on their needs, primarily space for two classrooms," said Cleavinger. "They would love to have access to a recreation facility, a gym, of some kind so the kids can do 'large motor' types of things during the winter months

"They plan to discuss their plans and needs with their board and report back to us," she said. "They would ideally love to expand what they are able to offer in order to attract more students."

Several other ideas were discussed and the group decided to meet again next week to continue the process. A time, date or place had not been set for the meeting as of Wednesday. The Signal will provide that update on its Web site at www.baldwincity.com.

One improvement over the first meeting was that the school district is not in as big of a hurry for a possible bond issue as it was stated previously. At the first meeting, Supt. James White said the district needed to know something about a possible joint effort between the city, school district and Baker within two weeks.

Several board members indicated that wasn't the case. The two-week time line was necessary for an April bond election. Board members said they'd prefer to wait.

Whether a joint effort can be done between the "big three" for a community building that would serve multiple uses is unknown. It's hoped a consultant can explain the process and what needs to happen.

The discussions between the groups began after the city, school district and Baldwin City Recreation Commission combined to solve a lighting issue at the ball fields this summer. The three groups have also worked together to build new ball fields near the new Baldwin Elementary School Intermediate Center in west Baldwin, south of U.S. Highway 56.

The school district has been contemplating a bond issue in the near future, which could include building an auditorium. Based on the success of the joint effort, the school board suggested the groups get together and include Baker to determine if a combined effort for better facilities for all would work.

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