Council to make final decision
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The city of Marshfield could include an extra $1 million in its long-range spending plans for renovations to the new community center, though originally no city funds were to be spent on that aspect of the new library and community center project.
The original plan for building the Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library and renovating the existing library into a community center was estimated to cost $9 million: $7 million for the construction of the library and $2 million for enhancements to the community center. Six million dollars of the $9 million total were to be privately raised, and the city allocated $3 million, but none of the municipal funds were intended for the community center.
Private fundraising totals are currently at about $5 million, according to City Administrator Steve Barg and project fundraisers, with the new library well on its way to being completed. That fundraising total leaves about $1 million less for enhancements to the community center than initially planned, though Barg said it was not clear yet exactly how much money those enhancements would actually cost.
“That $2 million price tag has never been firm. It’s not firm tonight either. We don’t actually know what it’s going to take to renovate the community center for the purposes desired at this point,” Barg said. He added that he thought the cost would be less than $2 million.
In February of 2015 the council passed a resolution saying that city funds were not anticipated to be used for the community center and that if private fundraising efforts did not reach their goal, the scope of the project would be reduced. However, $1 million has been placed in the city’s proposed capital improvement program (CIP) for community center enhancements, which the common council has yet to approve. The council will vote on the CIP at its May 10 meeting.
Alderman Ed Wagner said he would not support $1 million going to the community center.
“This is not something I’m real happy about,” Wagner said. “I know what the resolution was. We made a deal. I know what that deal was, and I want to stick with it.”
Barg said that the council could decide to reduce or eliminate that $1 million for community center improvements or to scale back community center plans.
“The CIP is not the same as budgeting or spending dollars,” Barg said. “Anything could happen on May 10 or beyond in terms of rescoping this project downward to meet the available dollars.”
Space in the approximately 36,000-square-foot community center will be dedicated to future tenants —including the Aging and Disability Resource Center, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Marshfield History Museum, and planned space for senior citizens — as well as a billiards room, exercise areas, meeting spaces, and storage, according to documents provided by the city.
Given those tenants, Barg said the community center would not generate tax revenue for the city. The council will vote on May 10 on whether or not to approve the floor plan for the community center, which Barg said would lead to a better idea of what the total cost for enhancements would be.
“The project can be scaled back, but it’s hard to do that until you have cost estimates,” Barg said.
Barg said if $1 million in city funds was approved for enhancements to the community center, it would likely be financed through “long-term borrowing.”