Cottonwood Community Center receiving a makeover

Photo by Jody Isaackson The Cottonwood Community Center has been gutted in an effort to make the upper end of its seating capacity more comfortable than “a tight squeeze.”

COTTONWOOD — The Cottonwood Community Center is in shambles right now. It was gutted over Thanksgiving weekend in order to start the remodeling process that the Community Center Committee has been working on for over two years.

The project came from the idea to make more room for the 300 capacity. The place was already able to seat up to 300, but it was a tight squeeze. One wedding in 2000 had seated for 300 and found it to be chair-to-chair seating. Additionally, they had to take up some tables and chairs after the meal to make a dance floor.

“The entry has been redone with an ADA acceptable grade incline,” City Administrator Charlie Seipel said as he gave a short tour Wednesday morning. “The ramp will be the only carpet in the place. The original ceiling, lighting and floor in the dance area will remain the same.”

The reason for the remodeling is to attract more clients such as wedding receptions and dances, which have been bypassing the center because of the tight spacing.

Construction workers and electrical contractors were on the scene Wednesday getting some work done in the walls.

Carpenter Dave Geihl of Cottonwood told Seipel the workers would probably have to hang a temporary plastic ceiling in the front part to help keep in the heat while they worked. Looking up, one could see the bare rafters and the bottom side of the roof.

There had been thoughts of taking up the cement floor, grinding it and relaying it with a swirl pattern to dress it up some, but that turned out to be cost-prohibitive, Seipel said.

Another item the city had considered was a new sprinkler system. Those run upward from $30,000, it was estimated. It was one more item for the “wait and see what the future holds” list.

The remodeling being done now flattens the restrooms against the south wall, just to the left of the front door, and also flattens the kitchen/bar area against the west wall. The new flooring in this south portion will be tile laid by C & C Custom Interiors of Marshall.

“All local contractors and volunteers are being used for this project,” Seipel said. “Paul Geihl of Geihl Construction, Cottonwood, is the project manager. He spent a lot of time dividing up all the contracting when we let out for bids in August.”

Not long prior to bid-letting, the state Legislature passed a new ruling that said cities could no longer permit their own work. As a city-owned entity, the Cottonwood Community Center could have gotten by with a locally-priced permit before. Under the new ruling, they had to apply to the state and pay $1,600 for the building permit.

Seipel said that the city had been preparing for this project over the past few years by setting aside money each year. That fund, along with fundraising efforts and donations from businesses and individuals, provided a budget of nearly $300,000.

“We’re trying to keep the expenses to about $250,000 to $300,000,” he said.

Seipel plans to send out a letter to the area clubs and organizations asking if they would consider sending in a donation to help complete the project by the projected completion date of March 1, 2018. It would be just in time for the annual Sportsman’s Club’s wild game feed, which is normally held on the first weekend in March.

Sometime after that, there will likely be a grand opening celebration.

“We’ll probably plan that when we get closer to completion date,” Seipel said.

In the meantime, several of the regular renters, such as tae kwon do classes have been farmed out to different locations.