The public gave its input on childcare and recreation needs in the Mahaska community in early April and now the results of a community survey have been released. The Mahaska County YMCA and the Mahaska Community Development Group teamed up in November 2014 to determine what are the childcare and recreation priorities in the community. In February and early March, Walker Coen Lorentzen Architects Inc. and Newmann Brothers Inc. were brought on board as consultants for the project.
A series of public meetings and focus group sessions were held and a survey was available for people to give their input. Architect Matt Coen of Walker Coen Lorentzen Architects Inc. gave two presentations and survey results Thursday at the Penn Central Mall meeting room. Coen said that the general input sessions had interesting results.
From those meetings, 98 percent support using public funding for recreation and early childhood development facilities. One hundred percent believe a new recreation center is needed. Fifty eight percent feel that an early childhood education center should be located near the Oskaloosa Elementary School; 90 percent believe recreation and early childhood development should be operated separately — even if they are under the same roof. Finally, 63 percent believed that the early childhood development center should be operated by the YMCA. There were 716 people who answered the survey questions.
Coen said that for early childhood development, priorities were affordable cost, secure entrances and child safety and a consistent curriculum in all area programs. Coen said the top recreation facility needs include flexible memberships, cardio equipment and a competition pool. There is strong support for probable use of both facilities and strong support for a 1 percent local option sales tax to help finance it, Coen said.
Option A would be to build a new recreation and wellness center. It would be about 65,000 to 75,000-square-feet and cost between $16.25 million and $18.75 million. It also calls for the combination of partnership facilities into a single location and to renovate early childhood facilities. It calls for a 30,000 to 42,000-square-foot facility and would be projected to cost between $4.8 million and $6.7 million.
Option B would be to build a single, new combined recreation and early childhood education center. The building would be about 85,000 to 95,000-square-feet and cost between $20.4 million to $22.8 million. Coen said the master plan would be presented in July.
For more on this story, check out today’s Oskaloosa Herald.
Photo by Bob Ballard