Vol 6 No. 39 - June 21, 2006

Board OKs $4 million for building

By Pat Copeland
sun staff writer

ANNA MARIA — After recovering from sticker shock, Community Center board members approved spending up to $4.1 million on a new building and borrowing up to $2 million to complete the project.

"This was a very historic couple of motions," board chair Andy Price declared. "We’ve been bouncing this around for five or six years. We have just nailed that sucker to the wall."

With the escalating costs of construction, the price of the building jumped from an estimated $2.6 million last year to $5.2 million this year. However, the building committee spent months in negotiations working to lower that figure.

"It was a huge shock for us," building committee chair Stewart Moon said. "We spent days looking at the plans trying to decide what we could change. We even hired our own consultants and engineers to look at it."

He said one issue was a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) requirement of $1 million in concrete to hold the building down in case of a hurricane.

Prior to the vote, board treasurer Tom Breiter gave the board three options and outlined the advantages and disadvantages of each.

"We have a lender that is ready to give us a loan in the 7 percent range," he explained. "The interest costs in terms of the project are not huge dollars.

"We have set a goal of paying off this project in the next 24 months. In order to do that, we must raise $50,000 per month and obtain a $600,00 Kresge grant. If we don’t get the grant, we can continue to fundraise."

Board member Peggy Douglas expressed concerns about being able to meet the increased costs of the new building, particularly insurance.

Executive Director Pierrette Kelly said the largest expense is staff salaries, which won’t change, and she is in negotiations with an insurance agent. She said additional revenue from new programs would offset increased costs.

"We would have never gone this far if we didn’t think we could cover the cost," Price added. "One of the first things we did was an analysis of whether we could build a new building."

Demolition of the current building is planned 30 days after the contract is signed, and construction is expected to take 10 to 11 months.

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