Almost two years ago, heavy snowfall closed the Wren Pierson Building in Cheney, collapsing the roof in the multipurpose room and sending the city scrambling to find homes for the many programs Cheney offered its residents.
Last week, the city held a brief groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the building’s upcoming reconstruction.
“It will be nice to have our community center back,” said Parks and Recreation Director Paul Simmons.
Simmons said he expects construction to last about 160 days. He hopes to move back in the middle of May and open at the beginning of June.
When that happens, the food bank, clothing bank and outreach programs will also return to the center.
Simmons said his department has been very involved in the planning of the reconstruction, which was designed by Bernardo Wills Architects.
He said the layout of the building will change. The offices will be up front toward a new entrance. A community meeting room will be added, as well as an improved kitchen and a new heating system which will replace the old boiler that was built in 1947.
Simmons said the building will be slightly bigger, adding 300 to 400 square feet, but the space will be used more efficiently after construction.
“It will definitely be a very different building,” Simmons said.
He said insurance will pay for the part of the building that was damaged, as well as any code upgrades that will be added. Had the city decided to build a whole new building at a different location, the entire building would have been covered by insurance. But the need for the building and its programs, as well as a failed park bond last year, forced city officials to decide in March to rebuild the existing structure.
Simmons said he will know for sure how much the new construction will cost the city once construction is closer to completion. He expects funding from the real estate excise tax, the park capital reserve fund and the capital bond reserve fund.
“I’m just excited to have all the services restored,” Simmons said. It has been a challenge for his department to manage its many programs from a distance. Although Parks and Recreation has been in its temporary offices on First Street, classes, senior groups and many more programs have been scattered throughout Cheney.
“It will be much better to have those in one area,” Simmons said.