Arundel center set for next project

With a swim center finished, campaign for gym begins

`The focal point of community activities'

Severna Park

October 08, 2004|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,SUN STAFF

Now that Severna Park's Community Center has formally dedicated a remodeled and expanded swim center, organizers say they are focused on raising money to finish the second part of the project.

Last week, several county representatives attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the swim center, which cost $2.3 million.

The second phase of the project will include an adjoining gymnasium that would also house four meeting rooms, offices, a weight room, and a dance and aerobics studio.

Construction is not scheduled to begin until at least late February. The timetable depends on whether $800,000 in donations can be secured on top of the nearly $3 million in cash and in-kind contributions that have been raised.

At this point, executive director Patt Haun hopes to have the remaining money for the gym by March and the project completed by December next year.

"The vision is to be the focal point of community activities in Severna Park," Haun said of the envisioned 36,000-square-foot facility.

Since February, the nonprofit center on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard has secured nearly $500,000 in commitments, said capital campaign member Carl Gutschick.

This has mostly been in the form of in-kind gifts - free surveying, flooring and legal advice, for example.

$4.8 million budget

But with the budget for the two-building project estimated at $4.8 million, Gutschick said, additional donations are needed.

Donations haven't flowed in as expected from businesses, organizers said.

Anne Arundel County and the General Assembly stepped in to help fill the void, providing $760,000 in grants (part of the $3 million that has been raised).

The Community Center was denied a grant last year by the state after receiving $500,000 in matching funds in 2002.

The center will pursue another state grant in Annapolis in January.

Organizers said they need additional funding in place to get financing on the property.

"The politicians are very candid. ... Money is very tight," Haun said.

The Community Center has received nearly 1,200 donations from families and businesses. Before the swim center was renovated and expanded to include a new warm-water therapy pool, about 10,000 people a year from Severna Park, Arnold, Pasadena and the west county used the center, Haun said.

"When you turn away people for space, you know you need more room," Haun said.

County leaders, including County Executive Janet S. Owens, were among more than 100 people who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 29 for the swim center, which reopened May 15 after a nine-month closure.

The center began planning the new complex after it outgrew its original 15,000-square- foot center.

The building was converted from a church parish house by the YMCA in the 1960s, but after the YMCA branch went out of business more than seven years ago, Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church bought the facility and created a separate board of directors to run the operation.

The highlight in the expanded swimming facility has been the therapy pool, which is the only one open to the public in Anne Arundel County, Haun said. Also, five physical therapists pay to use the 40-foot-by-40-foot pool for their patients.

`A step of faith'

"It was a step of faith that the community would want and support a facility like this," Haun said.

The plan in the next phase is to level the office building next door to the swim center and construct the gymnasium there, with a grand entryway joining the two structures.

The center has just begun securing permits for the second phase.

"The community is so happy that this is happening," said Gutschick, adding, however: "It would be nice to be supported by the community."

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