Preservation Park community center coming into focus

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Gina Duwe
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

— Three designs created by teams of college engineering students have helped give town of Beloit residents and officials an idea of what a community center built in Preservation Park could look like.

Supporters of the project plan to seek corporate sponsorships in an effort to get a facility built in the next five years.

"We've always said that we want Preservation Park to be the showcase for the township, and this would of course be a crowning feature to that," said Dan Schreiber, chairman of the town's parks committee.

The master plan created several years ago for the park, which is about 3 miles north of Beloit on Riverside Drive along the Rock River, calls for a community/event center to be a centerpiece near the park's entrance, town Administrator Brian Wilson said.

When the parks committee wanted to pursue a design or look for the building, Wilson said it began looking into a Milwaukee School of Engineering senior design program. The town applied for the program, was accepted, and paid $1,500 for supplies and travel expenses for the three eight-student teams.

"Basically they took our feedback and vision of what we saw was possible and showed us three different buildings," Wilson said.

Last Saturday, the students presented their models during a public open house for town officials and more than a dozen residents.

The designs ranged from rustic to modern, and costs were estimated between $2.6 million and $3.6 million.

The designs gave people some good ideas, Schreiber said.

"The general consensus for most people was that they liked some things for each," he said. "That's what we wanted."

The designs are not final blueprints, and parts of each design could be taken to an architect to create specific construction documents, Wilson said.

The designs would seat 300 to 350 people for banquets/receptions and include a kitchen for on-site catering. The students also looked at the possibility of adding administrative offices to replace the town hall, Wilson said.

Adding offices to the facility would negate a separate, new town hall building and also allow for regular staffing in the building, he said.

The town has not allocated any money for the project, Wilson said. The parks committee and Festival on the Rock organizers are looking at possible fundraisers or donations from corporate sponsors, he said.

Schreiber said the parks committee will work with the town board to discuss the next steps, which likely will include approaching companies about sponsorships, he said.

"Ideally they would pay for the whole thing and have naming rights," he said.

A private donation matched by the town also could be part of a possible funding combination, he said.

Last updated: 10:22 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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