The Pella City Council is preparing for potential construction projects that involve the community center, city hall, the library, public safety complex, electric and telecommunications utility, the public works building, and additional housing for the city of Pella.
A presentation of the results of a Facility Needs Assessment performed by Short Elliott Hendrickson has spurred discussion regarding the potential projects. A contract with the company to assess and address the city’s facility needs through 2040 was approved by the city council in August 2018.
The company identified a need for a 45,000 square foot community center during focus group interviews, which would provide an additional gymnasium and a large community meeting room to accommodate approximately 300 people. The city council has the option of renovating the existing building or constructing a new facility.
Based on the results of the assessment, renovating the existing building would cost approximately $10.3 million. However, due to the footprint of the structure, there would still be accessibility issues after renovation.
A new building would cost approximately $14.5 million and would be constructed near the Aquatic Center. The new structure would include two gymnasiums, one large meeting room and new council chambers. It would still accommodate existing art and recreational activities, but it would not include a theater. Alternatively, the community meeting room could be used for theater performances.
A new building could potentially free up the Memorial Building to support other city functions because the new facility could also be a future home for the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Both options would require a referendum from the community.
City Hall is currently adequately sized for existing services, but if the city proceeds with the proposed telecommunications utility, the main level would need to be reconfigured to accommodate it. The renovation would also accommodate one additional office.
If the city council decides to build a new 15,000 square foot building to accommodate both electric and telecommunications utility, it would cost approximately $2.3 million.
Based on focus group interviews, the library needs an additional 5,000 square feet to accommodate service levels through 2040. The extra space is needed for children’s programming, meeting rooms, storage and staff work areas. The estimated price range for the project is between $345,000 to $5.5 million and will depend on service levels approved by city council.
The public safety complex renovation is estimated to cost $11.4 million. Long term plans include 28,000 square feet of shared space with the fire department and EMS. Renovation of the existing fire and ambulance buildings would accommodate additional space for the police department.
A new building has been proposed for public works to accommodate 11,700 square feet needed for cold storage space. The new building would cost approximately $978,000 and would be considered within the next 12 to 24 months.
While these projects have only been presented for discussion, the city council approved an ordinance following a public hearing to rezone property located west of Highway 163 and north of Highway G-28. The ordinance would change the base zoning of the 48 acres of land from Agricultural to Community Commercial with a Planned Unit Development overlay.
The intent of the Planned Unit Development is to provide affordable workforce housing. According to City Administrator Mike Nardini, an in-depth housing analysis conducted in 2015 identified the need for an additional 996 housing units through 2025 to meet the community’s housing needs. This is a 15 percent increase in the number of housing units currently located in the community.
The city has proposed 93 residential lots to accommodate single-family homes priced from $220,000 to $250,000, and 45 owner-occupied townhome/condominiums units priced from $180,000 to $220,000. Five commercial lots could also be used for restaurants and other retail services, but these uses have not been finalized.
Nardini referred to the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which stresses the need for additional housing and identified it as a key priority goal. Nardini also noted the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved the ordinance at their meeting on June 24.