Where will the new Galesburg community center be? Decision expected by end of October

Samuel Lisec
Galesburg Register-Mail
Churchill Junior High, 905 Maple Ave., no longer serves District 205 students. The city now has the building and is considering it for a community center along with other locations.

GALESBURG — Galesburg City Council will review four possible locations for a new community center during an upcoming Sept. 26 work session.

The four options will be presented by the Farnsworth Group, a Peoria-based engineering and architecture firm the council hired in June to create a “master plan” for a new community center. 

Wayne Carl, Galesburg’s interim city manager, said the Churchill Junior High School building and the Hawthorne Pool are at least two possible locations the council will weigh renovating or adding onto in order to create a community center.

Carl said the Farnsworth Group has already surveyed the council members, mayor and city staff in order to identify priorities and program needs. The group also led the council and mayor on a tour of two nearby community centers in Rock Island — the Rock Island Fitness & Activity Center and The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

Between the two community centers, they provide a track, gym, pool, daycare, commercial kitchen, community rooms and various after-school or summer programming.

The Galesburg City Council will determine during their Sept. 26 work session whether they would like more information about any of the four possible community center locations. 

But Carl said he predicts the city will decide on a location by the end of October. He also expects the city will determine how it will budget the initial construction and then continual maintenance of a new community center by the end of 2022.

The council’s decision to acquire the Churchill school building and hire the Farnsworth Group came only after numerous debates and tabled votes from council members divided over the importance and cost —  estimated between $5 million and $7 million — of providing the people of Galesburg a community center. 

The council decided in a 4-3 vote to acquire the 86,000 square-foot Churchill building from Galesburg School District 205 in May. If the council were to decide not to use the Churchill building to build a new community center, Carl said “we haven’t got that far” in terms of what would happen next to the now-closed school.

More:Open house prompts public opinions on city options with Churchill as community center

The city could demolish, develop, or sell the Churchill building and its 14 acres, though when District 205’s board of education approved a deal transferring ownership of the school property over to the city, the school board added a “right of first refusal” clause that would allow District 205 to be first entitled to taking Churchill back if the city were to ever decide to sell it.

More:From Mr. Bob & Mr. Bill, to PE uniforms, to first dances: Curtain closes on Churchill

Hawthorne Pool repairs repairs increase, but will be done by June 2023

Galesburg’s city council decided during their last Sept. 6 meeting to approve a bid from the CAD Construction & Repair company to repair the Hawthorne Pool for $1,988,197.

Though the bid came in approximately $900,000 more than anticipated, Carl said it is “set in stone” the pool will be repaired and open to the public no later than June 2023. Carl attributed the higher cost of the bid to inflated construction costs and supply chain issues. 

More:Galesburg City Council decides to extend life of Hawthorne Pool

The CAD will repair the steel columns on the west side of the pool facility and re-tuck many of the building’s brick walls. Carl said visitors will also notice all new windows, doors and a new surface on the pool deck.

The city will have to hire a different company to replace the pool’s heater, pumps and put a new liner in the pool.