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Recreation center to expand

October 23, 2013

ROSEVILLE — The Recreation Authority of Roseville & Eastpointe (RARE) unanimously agreed on a plan to expand the recreation center on Sycamore Street during its Oct. 10 meeting.

According to RARE Director Anthony Lipinski, the estimated $3.8 million project, as agreed upon, would expand the fitness room, the small gym, the game room and the computer room. It also would add a senior office, a private meeting room for veterans groups and other organizations to use, a senior drop-in room with restrooms and a kitchenette, and a senior gathering room.

“It’s nothing that is set in stone yet, but it is a conceptual idea of what we want to do,” Lipinski said.

He explained that the expansion project originally had been envisioned before Roseville and Eastpointe combined recreation departments and had been discussed in the lead-up to the election that brought the cities together.

“During the campaign, it was discussed to expand this building just because it’s a little more centrally located for both communities. It’s three miles from the south border of Eastpointe and three miles from the north border of Roseville,” Lipinski said. “What we thought was if and when the authority was formed, we could expand this building to accommodate the number of users at the building.”

He said even before the consolidation, the building was practically maxed out in the programs it could offer and the people it was serving. However, based on a state statute, Lipinski said the new authority was barred from seeking a bond to expand for around 20 years, delaying the project until the authority received a formal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office.

“Expanding the building has always been in the thought process since the authority was formed just to be able to hold more programs and accommodate the extra use,” he said.

According to David Gassen, engineer, the cost includes roughly $450,000 to do repairs to the building’s roof and other vital items that are a priority for work within the next few years. These were not in the initial plans, but he thought the authority should consider them as part of this project, since work crews would already be on site.

“We expanded the scope in the budget to include mechanical items, electrical items, exterior items that you shouldn’t let go on the building, plus the roof, where it has gone past its expected life,” Gassen said.

He also suggested some areas the authority could save money, such as providing utilities for the contractors rather than outsourcing them and dealing with markups, and putting the plan together efficiently to get work done as quickly as possible.

Lipinski said if everything stays on track, work should begin in the spring of 2014. Gassen said once started, work would likely take between eight-10 months.

RARE Trustee Steve Duchane said he favored financing the work through a municipal loan with the cities rather than through a private institution, as it would give the board more control and leeway over how the loan is structured. No decision was made on financing during the meeting, as the board agreed to table it until the Nov. 14 meeting.

Roseville resident Diane Ellis said the addition sounded “fantastic” but wondered if it would be a problem for seniors to use the center while construction is underway.

“Would it be a major inconvenience to seniors?” she asked the board.

Lipinski said it would have an effect on the programs held at the building at any given time, but otherwise, the building will largely remain open for the duration, except the rooms being worked on. He added that once the authority has a work schedule and time frame solidified, it would have a better idea on the impact the work will have on programs.

“The authority board has really been looking to get the best possible type of addition or expansion onto the building to serve the residents, and especially the seniors, because they’ve taken the brunt of the hit for the move to an authority,” Lipinski said. “Both communities have had to close senior centers and move seniors around, so the board has really been looking to help the seniors and offer a quality facility and programs for them.”

At the Eastpointe City Council’s Oct. 15 meeting, Council member Wendy Richardson asked if the recreation authority’s decision could be added to the Nov. 19 council meeting agenda so the city could review it, which Duchane agreed to do.

About the author

Staff Writer Kevin Bunch covers the communities of Eastpointe and Roseville, as well as Roseville Community Schools and East Detroit Public Schools. He has worked at C&G Newspapers since 2013, and is a graduate of Wayne State University and Henry Ford Community College. Kevin is also a 2015 Metcalf Institute for Marine & Environmental Reporting alumni.

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