ROCK SPRINGS – The Village of Rock Springs is continuing discussions about the fate of its community center while taking small steps to stabilize it.
The villages building committee approved for Statz Mechanical to examine the existing furnaces in the building to see if they can be cleaned and restored for reuse to get heat to the building. More on the topic will be discussed at the villages Nov. 19 regular board meeting.
At the village’s Oct. 15 regular meeting the board approved to spend $5,000 to turn the building’s electricity back on; attempt to maintain it for the time being. The village received $124,000 in insurance money to fix the building from the late summer floods. Total damage is estimated at nearly $220,000.
It’s another small step to moving the village forward after 27 feet of water rushed through the village during the 2018 floods. While decisions have been made about keeping the building stabilized, the village is looking ahead on the long term fate of the community center.
Three options are on the table for the building: restore it to its original condition and make the first level more flood resistant, sell it for another use or tear it down. The village is also considering relocating its downtown area out of the flood plain.
“Personally I want to keep it but you have to look at everything,” said Dianne Chalmers, a committee member.
The community center in Rock Springs is a major gathering place for parties and celebrations in the community. The building also hosted the village office and library, but both of those will be moved to another location if the building is restored. The village office’s current location has been moved to the fire station at 105 East Broadway Street.
That also includes costs. Buildings Committee Chairman Duane Stieve said he was told from FEMA if the village wants to keep the building the lower level, which contains a dining room, has to be made flood proof. The committee and residents who attended the meeting discussed potential ways to make the building more flood resistant, including putting more cement in the lower level, and remodeling it. But that also risks losing some of the history towards the building, like its roller skating area.
“That’s all things that can be discussed down the road,” Chalmers said. “I don’t think there’s going to be any quick decisions.”
Those who attended the meeting talked about the significance of the building to the village as well as possible future uses. Rock Springs Resident Pat Duffin said to the committee his wedding was hosted in the building 32 years ago.
Paula Steinhorst, a former resident who now lives in the Town of Excelsior, suggested the idea of building being turned into a historical center. Like Duffin, the building is means a lot to her as her wedding was hosted in the community center 30 years ago and her mother’s wedding was hosted there in the 1950s.
Stieve said the community center has lost $5,000 to $6,000 in the last five years and one year had a profit of $475.
During discussion, Committee Member Jenny Kozlowski questioned if it was worth spending the money to fix a building that is losing money, especially if another major flood were to rush through the village.
“Do we want to keep hanging on to a building that is going to lose money every year?” Kozlowski said. “It’s not worth it… if you have it rented out for a weekend for a wedding and it floods that weekend there’s nowhere for them to park. You can’t have a wedding there then.”
Chalmers said if the building is flood proof by remodeling the lower level it could have a much less affect on the building and not as many events would have to be cancelled if a flood were to happen.
To help with costs, one resident who attended the meeting suggested rounding up volunteers to help remodel and clean the building. Chalmers said she would talk to the village clerk about posting more updates to the village’s website to keep the public informed about updates and decisions made to the building.
Kozlowski also thought ahead during discussion to how the village would pay to flood proof the building if costs began to exceed the insurance money and any other potential assistance. Chalmers stressed the focus at this time should be on trying to stabilize the building and wait to pursue other options until the village has more knowledge on the finances.
“All I’m looking at is right now we have to get it with heat and electric,” Chalmers said. ”We’re not making any decisions yet. I’m just saying let’s get the numbers so we can make a decision that we can bring to the board.”