While it may be progressing slower than Sedalians may prefer, Sedalia Parks and Recreation Director Mark Hewett will soon begin the next steps of assessing the financial situation of a Sedalia Community Center.
The Park Board met Thursday and gave Hewett approval to pursue what it would take financially to make a community center in Liberty Park a reality. Hewett told the Democrat on Tuesday that at this time Phase One will not include an indoor aquatics center due to cost, but he hopes to have everything else “essential” to a community center.
Hewett will be meeting with Mayor Steve Galliher, City Administrator Gary Edwards and Finance Director Kelvin Shaw before the end of the year to discuss how much the city would be able to afford with the Park Department’s proposed one-eighth cent sales tax increase, which Hewett previously told the Democrat the city plans to pursue on a ballot within the next year.
“We don’t know what we can and can’t do until we find out what money is available,” Hewett said. “We need to find out what money we have available and what we feel comfortable with to build a facility and at what price.”
Hewett said he has estimated Phase One will cost between $10 million and $13 million, but a final number will be decided on after meetings with city staff and once possible revenues from the increased tax have been determined. He said that will direct the Park Board moving forward in regards to what can and cannot be built, as well as what the city is capable of maintaining.
“It will be a very conservative figure where we can do about everything we wanted before, but none of the aquatics, which that will help with yearly expenses,” Hewett said.
“… Then we will see if we can make (the current plan) fit,” he continued. “We might have to drop a thing or two, but the main things, we’ll definitely get the senior center, multi-purpose room, gym, elevated track, meeting rooms — the basic essentials. It’s all so outdated, this would get us a really good start to updating our main facilities and offices. Then at some point work on Phase Two when we are able to add the indoor pool.”
Hewett said the Park Board members were all in favor of pursuing a community center, and all said they wanted to bring it to residents to vote on.
“We’re not here to force anything on anyone. We’re here to try to give people what they want with what we can afford to build. If they want it, we’ll build it, if not, we won’t — it’s that simple,” Hewett said. “We’re so far behind everyone else — Warrensburg next year will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their building. It was built in 1996 for $6.2 million, and it’s close to $24 million for about the same thing for us. I’ve said we need to get started at some point, and let the people decide if we do or don’t.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.