We had a great first meeting about the potential community center. It wasn’t an adversarial shouting match reminiscent of a court case; instead, I witnessed conversation and collaboration. But we need more of you involved.
What we need
As you know, the possibility of a community center is one aspect of a big project: the comprehensive Master Plan update. Central to this update is an assessment of Town needs. The consultants will look at what Grand Island used to have, what it currently has, and what it needs in the future. This includes structures, services, and amenities.
Creating a strong community takes work, but it’s worth investing in our community. Lack of investment results in an ailing community; one that sees a decline in services offered, a decline in local commerce, and a decline in resident satisfaction. For too long we didn’t invest in our town — just drive down Grand Island Boulevard and take a look at the empty buildings peppering our business district. We can change this with reasonable and prudent investment.
One hot-button topic at our first meeting was the Nike Base and the Golden Age Center. A few members of the Golden Age Center turned out, and they were very vocal about wanting to stay in the Nike Base. A few told me that it’s a special place, “like a resort.”
Though sentimentality and familiarity associated with a place sways many, it’s important to look at the facts. The Nike Base structure is in bad shape:
● the patched roof needs replacement, which will cost a significant chunk of tax money;
● air conditioning is slim to none;
● the parking lot heaves and buckles, making parking the winter a challenge
● space confines limit program expansion
● the septic system backs up frequently;
● plumbing needs repair
● rainstorms result in deep puddles INSIDE the building;
● the kitchen is inadequate;
● bugs live throughout the walls and cannot be exterminated — current staff was told by an exterminator to “make sure they don’t crawl out.”
That sounds like a heck of a resort. If you think I’m exaggerating, please ask the staff. They will detail these conditions and more.
Look to the future
It will cost large sums to repair even one of these issues, all of which will need attention within 10 to 15 years. The capital improvement cost for the entire site would be astronomical. Look around. Very few structures on Nike missile sites remain in use: they weren’t built to last.
The litany of problems with the Nike Control Site that houses our seniors will only compound over the years. Remember, a community center would be an investment benefiting not only current residents, but generations to come. Is it fair to future senior citizens to deprive them of a safe, comfortable, and visually-appealing space?
But it’s not my call
It’s not my project, but it’s one I think is important. If the process of assessing the options and needs results in a community center, I think that would be a worthwhile investment. But we need input from everyone to be sure we build what YOU want. So please, come to future meetings. There will be ample time to plan, discuss, and share ideas.
This is your town. If you don’t show, the same loud voices will win out. And we might get a community center, or we might get nothing new. But please remember, nothing is not the worst-case scenario. Dumping more capital into a money pit, an old bunker full of insects and dripping water, is far worse.
With highest regards,