Photo courtesy of Davis Architects.
New Homewood Rec Center
New Homewood Recreational Center pool
Citizens of Homewood were given the opportunity to voice their questions and concerns about the new rec center at the council’s regularly scheduled meeting on July 23.
Berkley Squires, Homewood's director of parks and recreation, began the hearing with a brief presentation of the reasons why the city is in need of the new center, as well as with a brief recap of what has happened to the plans since the last public work session meeting on June 25.
The changes included decreasing the size of the facility from 67,000 square feet to 47,000 square feet and decreasing the budget from approximately $17 million to $15.7 million. Squires also took this time to cover questions that the council members had emailed him following the public works session in June.
Several councilors asked whether or not the current location is the correct location to complete this project.
Squires responded that it is the correct location because it is the central hub to the city of Homewood. Other councilors voiced concerns with parking and traffic during construction and after the new center opens. Squires assured the council and public that the plans would add 58 spaces to the parking lot and that the new plan would be more efficient in terms of traffic and facilities available.
Squires also mentioned that in order to cut back on the budget and not introduce competition to Rosewood Hall, the updated plans have eliminated the previously proposed banquet hall.
After Squires made his presentation, Council President Allyn Holladay opened the floor to the public.
Eric Kinnear, resident of Homewood, asked if the proposed plans are really doing what the citizens want and whether or not the city had considered surveying citizens. He proposed the survey so that citizens would have the opportunity to tell the designers what they want to see. “If you survey the citizens, you’re putting it in black and white and it will allow the city as a whole to see what everyone in the community wants,” said Kinnear.
Kinnear also questioned whether decreasing the size of the facility was solving the problems that the community has with the current facility.
Kevin Forsythe, 20 year resident of Homewood and member of the Park and Rec board, compared problems between the Shades Valley YMCA and the Homewood Rec Center.
In his presentation, Forsythe mentioned that he was approached by Richard Laws and asked why some of the current councilors have issues with the new center. Forsythe described the process that the Shades Valley YMCA went through before renovating their facility; including a feasibility study; determining whether a full, half and half, or partial revocation should take place and consulting five architects to determine what all possible scenarios included.
Forsythe remained vigilant in asking whether or not the Park and Rec board went through the correct process in determining that the proposed center was the best option for the city as a whole.
Resident Mary Ellen Snell asked for the plans to be revised and mentioned that only pieces of this project were being funded. ”How will the estimated future maintenance and operations costs affect the city’s yearly budget?” asked Snell. Snell also questioned why there was no professional, third-party assessment made on the designs.
Resident Mitch Nelson approached the council and residents with nothing but high hopes for the proposed center. “I believe that this project is long overdue,” said Nelson. “I also believe that comparing the Shades Valley YMCA and the Homewood Rec Center is unrealistic.”
Many citizens mentioned that Homewood needs this facility not only because it is outdated, but also because Homewood needs to keep up with the progress and facilities available in surrounding communities.
“Homewood is losing potential clients to other, up-to-date facilities out of the city limits," one citizen said. "Wouldn’t it be better to encourage people to join this facility because it is up-to-date?”
Other citizens mentioned that several large projects the city has taken on in the past, like the new middle school, have had amazing success and that the city wouldn’t look back on its decision on them, so why start now with this Rec Center?
After the public finished voicing their opinions, questions and concerns with the proposed facility, Council President Allyn Holladay reviewed the common topics that residents mentioned.
Topics included issues with the site and the new size, pool issues, including competition size, the loss of a pool season, and overall size, consolidation of the weight room and cardio room, and the possible addition of a childcare room.
After reviewing the key topics, Holladay and several other councilors praised the Park and Rec Board for their hard work on this project and the public hearing was closed.
The next Works Session for this project is to be determined.
For more information on the proposed project, contact Berkley Squires at 332-6700.