Park Board hears project proposal of Recreation, Senior Centers - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Park Board hears project proposal of Recreation, Senior Centers

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- After having already suffered several large slashes to their proposed budget, officials from both the Rochester Recreation Center and Senior Center are staying optimistic that they can get the last bit of funding they need to go ahead with the project.

The Rochester Recreation Center is the site of the potentially huge project for the community.

The conjoining of the Rochester Recreation Center and the Rochester Senior Center would mean a brand new, over 50,000 square foot Senior Center and many recreation renovations.

The project was originally proposed at $33 million but after talks between City Council and state legislature, it has now been stripped to $20 million. Recreation Center manager Ed Staiert said that cut is now cutting it close.

"We cut as much as we thought we possibly could, until it would start to impact programs that affected major user groups and the general public," said Staiert.

Representatives for the project say they need an additional $2.3 million in order to move forward. That money would be coming from the city's future improvements fund. The decision of whether the project receives the funding is in the hands of the City Council. Representatives met with Park Board members Tuesday to discuss the future.

"Get the board's input on it, and they will give us some input and kind of game plan moving forward. How we can best present this further to Council and to the public as well," said Park and Recreation Director, Paul Widman.

Several important projects with the expansion would be eliminated, including a warm water pool, new locker rooms, and more ice rink space. One other issue is big enough to prevent the Senior Center from pursuing the project altogether.

"We wouldn't gain enough by moving because we'd virtually not gain a lot of square footage from what we currently have," says Sally Gallagher, Executive Director of the Rochester Senior Center.

Officials say many community members are supportive and City Council has been considering their requests.

If the project receives that extra money, the project will move ahead in early fall.

Project officials and City Council will meet again to discuss the future at the public hearing scheduled for March 17.

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