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More funds needed for Kroc Center

Thu., May 10, 2007

Boosters for The Salvation Army Kroc Community Center say they need to raise $1.2 million by the end of May or face a delay in building the $70 million project in Coeur d’Alene.

Announcement of a “major donation” at the site this morning will bring the Kroc Center’s capital campaign committee closer to its $6 million goal – the amount needed to break ground this summer and open about 16 months later, campaign co-chairman Jack Riggs said Wednesday.

Riggs said he’s confident the community will come through with donations to make up the difference.

“The things I’m hearing, the chatter, we’re pretty optimistic we’re going to get there,” he said.

Coeur d’Alene was chosen a year ago as one of six sites where Kroc centers would be built in The Salvation Army’s western region. The Kroc Foundation gave $32 million for construction costs and $32 million for an endowment to fund about 40 percent of the center’s operating expenses.

Other expenses will be paid through membership and rental fees. User fees will be on a sliding scale to ensure that those who can’t afford the full cost still can use the center, said Salvation Army Maj. John Chamness, director of the local project.

Of the $6 million being raised by the community, $4 million will go toward construction. The rest will go into the endowment fund, Riggs said.

Costs for the project have increased since the initial request to the Kroc Foundation. The project started around $52 million, but features such as the pool and theater have been enlarged, Riggs said. That’s in the spirit of the vision Joan Kroc, McDonald’s heiress and founder of the Kroc Foundation, had for the 32 Kroc centers to be built across the nation, he said.

“You can’t cut corners,” Riggs said. “Either they’re going to do it well or they’re not going to do it.”

Kroc envisioned world-class community centers, Chamness said, and believed community centers were vital in lowering crime, juvenile delinquency and teen pregnancy.

Today’s news conference at 10 a.m. is an appeal to the community for financial support, Riggs said, and an attempt to excite the community about what the center will offer, from swimming pools and basketball courts to a playground and performing arts center.

“It’s really for the entire family,” Chamness said.

Early in June, The Salvation Army will audit the pledges gathered to make sure a solid $6 million has been raised, Riggs said. If the goal isn’t met, construction on the 116,000-square-foot center may be delayed, he said.

“In our mind, delay is not an option,” Riggs said. He expressed concern that the cost of gasoline and building materials would increase if the project is pushed back. Rising costs, he said, “can put off a project, even kill it.”

“We look at this deadline as real,” he added. “None of us want to take on the responsibility of failure, causing delay.”

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