Janesville58.1°

Friends group looking to raise $3 million for community/senior center

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GINA R. HEINE
February 23, 2008
— Millions of dollars worth of city and community projects are in the planning stages in Evansville.

But who’s going to pay for all of them?


To get that discussion started, the Primetimers and board of the Friends of the Evansville Community/Senior Center hosted a luncheon Thursday for leaders of various community groups.


Doug Zweizig, representing Evansville Community Partnership, led the group in creating a list of projects that the city/groups want to pay for including library expansion, lake dredging, historic building restoration and a new fire department.


“It’s natural to worry when there’s so many attractive and needed projects in Evansville that there’s not enough money to support them all,” Zweizig said. “And that the success of any one project will reduce the chances of our own favorite projects.”


But that feeling may not present an accurate picture, he said. Zweizig described several examples in which reality was different than earlier assumptions in competitive situations.


In 1982, a company wanted to start a national newspaper, but many people were skeptical about what kind of success it would have, he said. Now the USA Today is the most circulated newspaper in the country, he said.


“We’ve seen over and over that this (assumption) that ‘There’s only so much room for things,’ turns out to be wrong,” he said. “This assumption is also likely to be wrong about the fund-raising in Evansville.”


The Friends group is hoping to raise $3 million to build a community/senior center downtown at Maple and Church streets that would include a lap pool and smaller therapy pool, said Janis Ringhand, interim director.


The non-profit group doesn’t want to put a shovel in the ground until $1.5 million is raised—something members hope could happen by July, she said.


“This project is one that is long overdue,” she said. “We can’t recall a time when there’s been a major capital drive for a project of this nature in this community.”


A $1 million anonymous donation more than two years ago sparked the project. But that money is set up as a foundation which pays the group 5 percent of the money invested annually.


The start of the fund-raising campaign for community/senior center will start soon, likely with a friendly brochure in the mailboxes of area residents. The group plans to host another lunch meeting soon to discuss fund-raising specifics.


Leaders who attended Thursday’s meeting were asked to fill out a form describing any projects they would be seeking community support for. While groups may be competing for the same donations, Zweizig said he’s confident the projects will find the needed community support.


Zweizig has been working with the Friends group to find grants that could help with the community/senior center.


“In Evansville, we’ve just had spectacular success in rebuilding Main Street,” he said.


But that project didn’t become reality without the help of grants, he said. He noted how the renovations of downtown, including the remodeled Eager building, make the city a more attractive place for donors.


“We have been able to demonstrate that we can complete projects that make the donor look good,” he said.


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Plans for the Evansville Community/Senior Center were on display at Thursday’s luncheon. Each plan and phase depends on the pace and amount of funds raised.


Phase I—large meeting room


-- Will cost $1,472,361


-- Include a 1,970-square-foot meeting room to accommodate seating for 202 in a wedding style or 160 in a conference style


or Phase I—small meeting room


-- Will cost $1,447,361


-- Include a 1,535-square-foot meeting room to accommodate 167 wedding guests or 128 conference guests


Phase II


-- Will cost $1,295,384


-- Include six-lanes in a 25 meter lap pool


or Phase II with additional pool


-- Will cost $1,404,189


-- Include a second pool with warmer water for therapy, exercise, etc.


Total of Phases I and II, with both pools: $2,876,550. The goal is to raise $3 million to cover other costs such as engineering plans and land purchase.



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