Residents wanting to learn more about a proposed community center in Robbinsdale will have to wait; amid ongoing concerns about the coronavirus, the March 18 and 21 open house meetings were postponed, among most other city activities. To keep the momentum for the project, city officials have opted to upload the plan options on the website and take feedback virtually, likely via email or a submission form.
No replacements dates for the open houses have been chosen, due to uncertainty of how long coronavirus-related restrictions and recommendations on public gatherings will last.
To view the proposals, visit robbinsdalemn.com/sanborn.
The building would replace the warming house at Sanborn Park, which City Manager Marcia Glick described as being in poor shape.
No decisions have been made in regard to the size and shape of the building or amenities it would offer, and city officials had hoped to tease those out in the postponed feedback sessions. An online survey had been planned in early April.
Estimates for a potential community center are about $5 million, which would be levied through property taxes.
Designs show a two-story building in generally the same place as the current building. The building could feature several large and small meeting rooms on both floors, a catering kitchen and ready room on the upper floor and a warming house, storage, lounge and virtual library in the lower level.
If constructed, the building’s footprint would reach farther into the park than the current building and require some reshuffling of park features like the skating rink. Engineering staff members are currently considering an alternate building placement overlooking Shoreline Drive, which Glick said would be a similar concept except for walkout access on the second floor. Either way, the park is scheduled for some modifications in the next few years, and if the community feels it doesn’t want a community center, the session will reveal other desires for the park.
Depending on the feedback received, the City Council may decide to put the community center proposal on a ballot. Capital funding is scheduled for the park’s rinks, retaining walls and backstops this year, major work on the building and a new playground in 2022-2023 and trail work in 2026.
City officials decided to pursue the community center discussion after a 2017 city performance survey revealed higher-than-expected resident interest. The survey indicated 85% percent of respondents supported the construction of a community center; 29% said if constructed, they would “very likely” use the space, 47% indicated they were “somewhat likely.” Another question asked how much the respondent would be willing to pay through property tax increases, to which the majority (34%) said they would prefer to pay nothing.