Council and City Staff Looking at Facilities
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” – John F. Kennedy
Mayor Merrifield covered the topic of usage of city facilities in his previous article in the Carlisle Citizen. Given some of the rumors and the complexities surrounding the current discussion, I wanted to present some more details on the topic to ensure as much transparency as possible. Through conversations with staff and elected officials, we noted that the city may be able to better utilize some of our current city-owned facilities by making improvements or even changing their use. Additionally, several of our city’s departments are feeling constrained in their current facilities. Three in particular are limited on their current ability to grow in their current locations: the library, police department, and city hall.
What are some of the needs the different departments have? Some of the “biggest ticket” needs identified (in no particular order) by department heads like Library Director Stacy Goodhue, Police Chief Matt Koch, and City Clerk Martha Becker include:
|Library||Police Department||City Hall|
|Functional Office Space||Improved Evidence Storage||Increased Records Storage|
|Designated Programming Space||General Storage Space||Office Space for Anticipated Growth|
|Quality Employee Workflow Area||Training Space||Quality Employee Workflow Area|
|Study Rooms for Public||Increased Patrol Room Space||General Storage Space|
|General Storage Space||Decontamination Area|
|Enclosed Parking Space|
How do we start addressing these needs? With the city’s purchase of the old GWB building, the thought was expressed of moving city hall to the bank and having the PD take over the current City Hall. This addresses the space needs of 2 departments and could be done fairly cost effectively. If done with planning and forethought, it also sets both departments up for some long-term growth potential in those spaces.
What about the library’s space needs? In looking at building usage, the community center, across from Cal’s, and the recreation center, next to the aquatic center, are the two main facilities open to the public for general use and activities.
What does their usage look like? The community center is used largely during the day for the county’s Senior Meals program and then for weekend rentals. The recreation center is used largely at night and on Sundays for activities by community groups like Three Rivers Church, Two Rivers Taekwondo, Janet Ray’s exercise programs, and for weekend rentals. With two buildings filling community needs largely at different times of the day, consolidating them into one makes sense. If this is done, the empty building could be used for a library.
Which would be more conducive for a renovation into a library? Given the space available and the location of both, the recreation center would allow for more initial space and more potential growth in years to come.
One concern posed is that the library wouldn’t be by the school anymore. What do student numbers look like? The school district graciously provided some numbers for us on that topic. For those in the district living in Carlisle, roughly 435 kids live north of Highway 5 (216 pre-K through 5th, 93 middle school, and 126 high school). South of Highway 5 comes to roughly 616 kids (308 pre-K through 5th, 144 middle school, and 164 high school).
If we move forward with this plan, what will happen to the current long-term renters of the rec center? Three Rivers Church, Taekwondo, and Janet Ray have all been made aware of the discussion and were encouraged to provide comments and feedback. During the discussion, city staff expressed that their comments are important and are being considered during discussion. It was also expressed that with the changes, there may be opportunities to utilize the renovated facilities. At this time, no guarantee can be made as plans and drawings have not been made.
What will happen to the newly vacant library? Several of the options initially discussed have ranged from selling the building, to renovating into a community space or potential office space. Details on this aspect are not likely to be made for some time.
What does a possible timeline look like? Some lower cost renovations and a move like city hall to the old GWB building could likely be done within the next 6-12 months. Larger scale renovations like moving the library to the recreation center would require more planning, fundraising from the community or outside funding sources, and utilizing opportunities presented by our current bond issuance timeline (FY2021 & FY2023).
The topic will be on the agenda for a vote by the Council on March 11 to provide staff some clear guidance on movement forward. As always, if there is any questions or comments about our facilities or any other city-related topics, please feel free to reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling City Hall at 515-989-3224.