South Fayette mulls multi-million dollar community center
South Fayette Township officials and representatives from WTW Architects presented a plan to renovate and expand the Community Center located at the Morgan Municipal Complex, 515 Millers Run Road, during a public forum Aug. 10.
Richard De Young, president of WTW Architects began the meeting with an overview, explaining that Phase 1 will expand the existing building from 12,135 square feet to 37,262 square feet. The added square footage will come primarily from building two new gymnasiums and expanding the library to approximately three times its current size.
Phase 1 will also include a new main entry lobby, restrooms and personal changing rooms, an exercise classroom, minor renovations to the township offices and police department, additional parking and sprucing up the exterior.
Funding for Phase 1 is being secured from several sources, according to township manager Ryan T. Eggleston. He explained the $7-8 million would come “primarily from what is called the Star City account, we have roughly $2.5 million there from the sale of properties to Children's Hospital and Washington Financial. We would also include in that $5 million we'll receive from Horizon Properties for the sale of the remainder property at Star City.” The borough bought the former Star City Theater in 2009 with the intention of building a community center there, but instead decided to expand the Morgan Municipal Complex.
Questions from the 40 or so residents in attendance were wide reaching, but could be broken down into two large categories. The first was the size of the project. Residents voiced concern about whether it made sense to add such a large gymnasium to the site or to add a swimming pool to the current plans. Cindy Cox, a member of the library board of trustees, voiced those concerns: “I want to make sure we're building enough to meet the needs that we actually aren't meeting now. We expand library programming, we discuss it all the time, but there's just not enough space.”
The second category of questions was about funding and the concern of what it would cost to operate and provide upkeep for the expanded center. Resident Fred Cardillo suggested a feasibility study. “I think we went into the Star City purchase hazy. We weren't sure what the costs were going to be and we weren't sure of the effects to the township. Could we get a study of who is going to use this facility and how much it's going to cost the tax payers? I see already that we're not including the cost of tearing down the public works building and relocating it in the $8 million.”
The current public works building would need to be relocated to Treveskyn Park to make room for the expanded community center.
Commissioner Lisa Malosh agreed with Cardillo, and said, “I think that's exactly what we intend to do. This is just a preliminary discussion and dialogue, we absolutely need complete financial details. We have a whole lot to balance out. I wouldn't be comfortable voting on this until somebody gave me an idea of what this is going to cost five and 10 years down the line.”
Phase 2 of the project was also discussed, although funding is not in place for this part of the expansion. It would include demolition and new construction of the police department, municipal office and community spaces; an enhanced main lobby for the building; a third gymnasium, including an elevated walking/running track around all three gyms; the construction of a locker room, additional parking and further expansion of the library.
Attendees were given a survey to fill out, which will also be available until Aug. 31 on the South Fayette website. Once the board has had an opportunity to look at the survey results they will discuss next steps, possibly as early as the September meeting.