Final feasibility study meeting held on NL Community Center
An artist’s rendering of the proposed Northern Lehigh Community Center located at 545 W. Church St., in Slatington. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Might the proposed Northern Lehigh Community Center be one step closer to fruition?
It could be after the final in a series of feasibility study meetings for the center was held recently in the Northern Lehigh School District Administration Building.
At that time, architect Kimmel Bogrette shared her report for the 16,000-square-foot community center located at 545 W. Church St. in Slatington.
Mike Kukitz, executive director of the Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority, noted that the center is “still in the planning phases.”
“We need to discuss it, and sit down and dive into the numbers,” Kukitz said. “This was a necessary study to see if you can get help with construction costs.”
Kukitz added, “We’re confident with the report itself.”
Kukitz said the community center has been in the works for about 20 years.
In August, the Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority engaged Kimmel Bogrette Architecture + Site (KBA+S), and their consultant, Ballard*King (B*K), to complete a feasibility study for a new center.
The site currently contains about a 9,600-square-foot building shell that was completed in 2010. No other work has been completed to date at the 3.1-acre site.
From the late 1990s through the early 2000s, a group of volunteers raised over $600,000 to purchase land and garner support, which allowed them to construct the shell of the community center facility in 2012.
Since then, the group of volunteers has turned to the local municipalities for assistance.
The Northern Lehigh Recreation Authority was formed in 2016 and consists of Slatington, Walnutport and Washington Township, with a mission to complete the facility.
What it would look like
It was stated that possible available funding sources include capital funding such as partnerships, grants and public funding.
The proposed floor plan shows the fit up of the existing 9,600-square-foot building, and the addition of about a 7,700-square-foot gymnasium, for a total building size of 17,300 square feet.
The construction within the existing building includes a 2,100-square-foot cardio/fitness room, a 1,400-square-foot multipurpose/exercise studio that can be divided in half by using a folding partition, 1,950 square feet of event space that can be divided, a catering kitchen serving the event rooms and lobby, men’s and women’s bathroom/locker room, a lobby/cafe area and office space.
It is envisioned that the fitness space would have cardio, free weight and circuit training equipment. The studios would be multipurpose spaces that could contain a yoga class one hour and transition into a quiet student study room the next.
The event spaces could provide space for community center programs or function as rental space for parties, lectures and seminars. The event rooms would be served by the catering kitchen, while the lobby could provide soft seating for hanging out and relaxing with items purchased from the adjacent cafe counter.
The gymnasium is large enough for one high school size basketball court, but could also contain lines for volleyball, pickleball and most any other court-based indoor sport. Ample spectator and storage space would also be provided.
Cost estimates to either complete the existing building, or complete the existing building with a gymnasium addition, were provided.
The cost estimate for completing the renovated existing building only is between $2.4 million and $2.9 million, and includes construction, soft costs, furniture, fixtures and equipment; 6 percent for cost escalation to 2020 and a 5 percent construction contingency have also been included.
The preliminary cost estimate for the renovated existing building with new gymnasium addition is for completing the existing building, as well as the construction of 8,200-square-feet of new gymnasium and storage space at a cost between $3.6 million to $4.4 million, which includes construction, soft costs, furniture, fixtures and equipment; 6 percent for cost escalation to 2020 and a 5 percent construction contingency have also been included.
The next step would be to put a design team in place for finalization of the site plan and building design, starting the land development process, creation of detailed construction documents, public bidding of the final documents and selection of building partners to execute the plans.
At that point, the NLRA could expect a time frame of about eight to 12 months to complete the land development process and construction documents.
Once the project has been bid and awarded, it was stated that construction should take between five to seven months until the facility is ready to open.
Walnutport Borough Councilwoman Patrice Hunsicker said at a borough workshop last week that numbers are being compiled to see how much it will cost each of the three municipalities.
“A community center would definitely be a good thing,” Hunsicker said.
For more information on the community center, visit www.nlcommunitycenter.com.