At long last, community center starts to take shape in city

At long last, a Sartell Community Center is taking shape.

The idea, which began as a shimmering dream, is now almost visible. If all goes as planned, the 10,000 square-foot center will be built probably on the north end of Sartell City Hall and be attached to the city-hall building.

It’s a perfect location – centrally located with great visibility from busy Pinecone Road.

According to planners, it will contain a 2,000 square-foot all-purpose room (which might someday serve as a library), a senior center, public meeting rooms, a serving kitchen, storage and display spaces, most likely for historical artifacts.

All Sartell residents should be excited about the center finally becoming a reality. When they voted for a half-cent regional sales tax 12 years ago, a community center and/or library were uppermost in voters’ minds. Thanks to sales-tax revenue, the center can now be built. The city will have to use a bond to finance it, at first, but the bond can be paid back with revenue from the sales tax as that revenue becomes available each year.

Unfortunately, the Sartell Community Center won’t have everything every heart desires: no swimming pool, no youth center, no full-fledged library, no historical center. However, even without those longed-for amenities, the center will still be an exciting and vibrant place for meetings, for learning and for fun. There’s no end to the special events that could take place there.

It’s much easier to support a project once we get a good idea of its shape, its location, its very probability. Thanks to the Community-Resource Facilities Task Force, that is what has happened. Honing in on a place for a center (city-hall site) was in itself a big step toward the center-as-reality. The task force deserves enormous credit for all the good work its members have done.

Next is the design concept, in which more precise details will become known. Those details will include how the building will look, where exactly it will be placed and how its functions can perhaps dovetail with the needs of city hall. One foreseeable need is using the huge room in the center for city-hall meetings that will require more space for audience members.

Hats off to the task force, to city staff and to the Sartell City Council, most notably Mayor Joe Perske and council member Steve Hennes, who kept the community-center concept vividly, urgently alive for so many long years.

The center, it should be noted, is not yet a done deal, but it is well on its way to becoming a solid reality.

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Dennis Dalman
Dennis Dalman

editor@thenewsleaders.com Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.

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