The Lunda Family Trust Fund will be donating a new Community Center on the south lawn of the high school.
Marlee Slifka, a trustee of the Lunda Charitable Fund felt that it would be a nice addition to the community, a place to gather for socialization and fitness and activities that span generations.
“The Boys and Girls Club was in need of a different facility for their purposes and after conducting local surveys. It was indicated that our senior population would also like a place to congregate. The school district needed more gym space, but funds were not available to the district for such a project. We thought the Field House would be a nice addition to the Lunda Community Center for the school district to use, given its need and the close proximity to the school was an added bonus,” said Slifka
There has been confusion on who is building the new facility. Superintendent Shelly Severson wanted to make it clear the School District of Black River Falls is not building this facility.
“The Lunda family felt that our community was lacking quality resources for senior citizens, Boys & Girls Club and a more comprehensive fitness center,” said Severson. “They approached us and asked if we would be interested in selling them the south lawn of the high school so that they could build their facility.”
Along with confusion as to who is building this new center, there is also confusion as to who is funding it. While the building will stand adjacent to the high school, the school district is not funding the project. The Lunda Charitable Fund will be funding this project; there will be no tax dollars used for the building of this center, says Severson
“After the building is complete, the Lunda Community Center will be responsible for costs associated with the community portion of the building (maintenance, upkeep, etc.) and the school district will be responsible for the costs associated with the maintenance and upkeep of the Field House. As is presently being done at the existing Lunda Community Center, there will be a membership fee,” said Slifka.
Severson made it clear that the district no longer owns the land that is known as the South Lawn.
“We have exchanged that 9 acres of land in return for 9.4 acres of land adjacent to the Forrest Street School. That land is now owned by the Lunda Community Center Incorporated, which is a new organization that will be 100% in control of this new building. They will pay for the building of it, they will own it, operate it, manage it, maintain it, etc. The land is not ours any longer. Any construction that happens on that land is NOT funded through any School District funds, which is taxpayer money,” said Severson
Severson has not been included in the planning of this facility but knows what will be included in the new facility.
“I do know that they are planning to have a place for the Boys & Girls Club to relocate to, a Senior Citizens Center, an indoor aquatic park for family use, a workout facility, walking track, as well as the three bay gym/field house that the School District will lease from them for use with our athletic programs,” said Severson.
The aquatic park is one aspect of the center that has been of interest.
“[The pool will include] a warm water swimming pool, which includes an area for lap lanes and a zero depth entry area with a water slide, and a child watch area,” said Slifka.
Seeing that we already have a facility similar to the one being built, there is concern as to what will happen to the old one.
“The pool portion of the current center will remain as it is and will be used by the school for PE and swim lessons. The swim team will also continue using it. The area upstairs that currently has the weight and nautilus machines will become a training room for wrestling,” said Severson.
The starting of construction is not concrete. Slifka says that the project has not yet been out for bids and the beginning of construction is yet to be determined but they are hoping for fall of 2014.
“Until we are able to determine who the contractor will be and when a start date has been provided, we are unable to provide a completion date. We are aiming for early 2016,” said Slifka.
With the building of this new facility, there are some worries. One dispute Severson has heard is some people that believe the HS is now limited in its expansion due to the new facility.
“I disagree. We retained enough of the south lawn to enable us to expand and we also have space to the west of the current building. Some people say that it will increase congestion in the parking areas. Again, I disagree. There is a considerable amount of parking being added for the facility that the district will be able to use on the nights of events,” said Severson.
With the few concerns, there are a lot of positive features to this project. The new building will provide more diverse hours of usage than the current fitness center, says Activities Director Jim Rufsholm.
“It will offer homes to the Boys and Girls Club and a Senior Center for years to come. The new facility will have a program gym that will be available to its members nearly 100% of the time,” said Rufsholm.
Slifka agrees that the benefits are many.
“Much needed space for the school district for athletic events, a ‘home’ for the Boys and Girls Club, an area for the senior citizens to gather and an indoor swimming pool with warm water for children and families to enjoy as well as lap lanes for swimmers to exercise, and an exercise/fitness area which promote physical activity and health for all age groups,” said Slifka.
Severson feels that this is an incredibly generous gift from a family that has done so much for our community.
“The community is not being asked to pay for any of the construction costs, it will not be owned by the city, which means people will not have to pay taxes to maintain it, and they are planning a facility that will serve community members of all ages! What a gracious gift to give to us! The district is specifically going to benefit from a facility that would have cost us approximately $4.5 million dollars to construct, instead, it will be gifted for our use. The generosity of the Lunda family cannot be overstated. The district is extremely appreciative!” said Severson.