Planning progress on possible CG community centerTask force rates sites, desired amenities, now waits for feasibility report
Slowly but surely, Cottage Grove’s Community Center Task Force is chipping away at a question asked by city leaders for at least the last decade: should Cottage Grove build a community center?
A final recommendation from the 30-person group is still more than a year off. But last week, community development director Howard Blin presented the task force’s progress nine months into the two-year planning process, laying out the group’s preferred sites and prioritized amenities for a possible community center.
Next month, the task force will receive a feasibility report detailing what amenities a community center in Cottage Grove could financially support, a factor officials say will go a long way toward determining what a future facility would look like.
“There’s a couple pieces here in play,” said Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey. One, he said, is whether it’s feasible for the city build things like an indoor pool, performing arts space or teen center, the three amenities ranked highest by the task force.
And, two: can the city afford it? No price tag has been placed on the proposed project.
The group ranked 11 locations in Cottage Grove, settling on a site near Pinetree Pond Park and Fire Station 2 on 80th Street and Ravine Park near the Washington County South Service Center off of Highway 19 as the highest preferred sites.
It also ruled out three sites from future consideration: the current Cottage Grove City Hall/Park Grove Branch Library property, Oakwood Park and the Park High School property.
The task force “effectively ruled some out and then, in broad categories, ranked the rest of them,” Blin said. “Now we will do more detailed analysis on all the sites to determine which are the two or three best sites.”
Sites were judged on criteria included parcel size, access, proximity to population center, acquisition costs, site preparation costs and availability of utilities.
Task force members’ next step is to consider the report. It represents the first point officials built into the process where the task force can recommend community center planning be abandoned.
If they continue, the task force will soon begin to study different models for operating the community center, including a wholly city-owned and operated facility, city-private sector partnership or a city partnership with a nonprofit organization.
Bailey, despite concerns from some regarding the project’s cost and how the city would pay for it, believes community members still crave a community center.
“I still hear people, numerous people, who still come up to me and comment, ‘when,’ not, ‘if. ‘When,’” Bailey said.