Plans for the $1.7 million remodeling of the McCreary Community Building were brought before the Perry City Council earlier this month, drawing praise from the council for the design and enthusiasm for the anticipated improvements and upgrades.
Dana Pedersen, senior project manager and project architect with Polk City-based Ethos Design Group, walked the council through the project’s high points, including converting the MCB theater to a workout room, resurfacing the gymnasium floor, adding a family restroom and child watch room and remodeling the locker rooms, kitchen, restrooms — basically the entire facility.
Th council voted Jan. 6 to let bids for the project, with a Jan. 28 deadline for bids. The contract will be awarded Feb. 17 provided a responsive and responsible bidder is identified. Construction is expected to begin about March 1.
The gym will be closed from about March to June for refurbishing, according to city officials, and once the theater is converted to a workout room for cardio and weights, 24-hour access will be allowed.
Prior renovations to the MCB have been made piecemeal over several years. The most immediate recent needs were the $250,000 roof replacement in 2018 and the $280,000 replacement of the MCB’s 35-year-old chillers and boilers in 2019.
With these infrastructure priorities addressed, attention has turned to the MCB’s interior and to the opinions expressed by Perry residents when surveyed in 2018 for the Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
Along with the bid documents, the Perry City Council also approved an application for about $14,000 in grant funding through the Iowa Jobs Training Program, which is administered by DMACC and funded by the Workforce Training and Economic Development Fund, established in 2003 as part of the Grow Iowa Values Fund.
The grant will pay for training in strategic planning for the MCB leadership team, including Perry Parks and Recreation Director John Anderson and Assistant Director Becky Halling.
The McCreary Community Building opened Sept. 24, 1983, with help from a $650,000 bequest from the estate of Rex and Irma McCreary of Perry. The McCrearys made several stipulations about what their money could be used for when put toward a community center in Perry, including requiring senior services and daycare services and a city match of the McCreary funds.
The taxpayers of Perry approved a $1.14 million bond issue for the center in the summer of 1981. The rec center has always operated at a loss, but the value of the facility as a public asset — what is sometimes termed its social value — has made it well worth supporting over the years, according to Perry residents and city officials.
This week the council is expected to approve a resolution that “expresses support from the Perry City Council for the renovation of the McCreary Community Building and also for the multiple benefits associated with this renovation.” This latest official pat on the back will allow the city to seek additional grant funds from a variety of sources.
The Perry City Council’s next meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. in the Clarion Room of the Security Bank Building at 1102 Willis Ave. in downtown Perry. The meetings are open to the public.