The renovation project for the Sugar Creek Gymnasium has hit at least a slight delay.

Part of funding the city had planned to have is a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant for preserving the historic nature of the pre-1950s standalone building, which the city then must match in the project budget.

City officials have formulated plans to make the gym a more usable community center for people, though they haven't yet decided on an exact project. The larger of two proposed projects would cost about $2.17 million, according to city information.

Advance payments from Republic Services, Parks & Recreation Sales Tax funds and contingency funds from Lafarge Corporation cover the bulk the of the larger project budget.

Late Friday, the city learned that its planned details in the project to secure the grant weren't enough to satisfy the state's historic preservation office – a change of stance from previous months that right now has city officials scratching their heads. With no time to respond Friday and Monday's federal holiday, City Manager Ron Martinovich said he hopes to get some answers this week.

The Board of Aldermen was scheduled to vote Monday on an agreement with Universal Construction for construction management services – essentially re-affirming the agreement signed by previous mayor Matt Mallinson, now that Larson has succeeded him – but that vote was postponed with the recent development.

“We visited with the state office of historic preservation to find out what we needed to do,” Martinovich told the board, referring to the meeting earlier this year. “We need a bit more time to understand what the state is asking.”

Martinovich added that people from the Mid-America Regional Council who helped Sugar Creek with the grant were “a little bit alarmed by the news.”

To secure the grant, the city wants to keep the doors and windows looking as close possible to their current state, keep the current lighting setup but switch to LED and construct a display case that gives the public a glimpse of the city's history. Whether the city needs to have some new plans drawn up or change some little details, that's the mystery.

“We just don't know yet,” Larson said.

At a town hall meeting last month, residents had a chance to tour the gym and offer feedback on the two options. One less-extensive option involves upgrades to the heating/cooling system and lighting/electrical system, new restrooms and improved handicap access. The second also includes a new gym floor and removing the bleachers to add a couple thousand square feet for various pieces of fitness equipment.

Currently the gym basement is used for storage, and the gym is rented on occasion. On Monday the board did approve a rental agreement for the gym with Independence Schools for Van Horn wrestling practice.

The city hopes to finalize the CDBG grant next month, select a contractor in December and begin construction in January 2018.


FESTIVAL FUNDS: Larson reported that the city netted more than $9,900 combined in renting LaBenite Riverfront Park for the Tumbleweed and Dancefestopia music festivals, which were held in July and September, respectively. It was the second time they were at LaBenite, and the production company for both said it hopes to use the park again next year.