Below you will find an important 2017 Newsletter Article updating residents on the progress towards a community center, along with links to various research documents.
2017 Full Newsletter Article: Is UMT getting a COMMUNITY CENTER?
EVERYTHING you need to know, and how to GET INVOLVED!
This article will provide answers to important questions such as why is UMT exploring building a Recreational Community Center, what research has been done so far, what options we will have regarding design, construction, and funding, and most importantly, how can residents get involved and have your voices heard!
Our research supports the finding that Upper Macungie Township has the need for a Community Center and the population to support it. If built, this facility would be for the enjoyment of EVERYONE and ALL AGES. As listed below, it would provide additional benefits to our Township. With that said, we need to know if residents WANT a Community Center. We need to know this is where you want funds to go, and what you want to see in this facility? After reading this article, please take a moment to COMPLETE THE SURVEY and be directly involved in the enrichment of our community quality of life!
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS: Did you know Community Centers…
- Improve health, wellness and sense of community for ALL ages and stages of life
- Increase property values and tax base
- Improve quality of life providing a gathering place, social hub
- Help ensure access to recreation for ALL ages and abilities
- Assistance with preventing childhood obesity with multiple activities in one place
- Help conserve their surrounding green spaces, utilizing them to provide nature-focused programming and facilities (ex: classes, butterfly and rain gardens…etc.)
- Give communities the ability to offer more recreational programs, classes and activities for ALL ages and abilities
- Provide an increased sense of community identity and engagement
BACKGROUND: Why we are exploring building a Community Center
As one of Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing municipalities, the Township took steps to sustain the quality of life by preserving open spaces and identifying recreational needs. In 2009 a survey was sent to every resident to generate direct feedback regarding recreational needs, wants, and suggestions. Keystone Consulting Engineers utilized these resident insights to propose a clear plan to accomplish the Township’s vision for Park and Recreational growth. On April 7, 2011 the UMT Board of Supervisors adopted this as The Township Park and Recreation Plan (Resolution #2011-6), and began to actively sustain the quality of life for a growing community by expanding recreation facilities, and conserving open green spaces.
The Study included a Capital Improvements Plan used to plan and budget to acquire lands, develop parks, as well as preserve and enhance open space. The Plan suggested several facilities and improvements to existing park lands including the need for an indoor Recreational Community Center by 2017. Many of these suggested capital improvement projects were completed and are in use, or are currently under construction. The Township funded these improvements with the lowest possible financial impact through developers’ contributions, over $2,000,000.00 in grants, and budgeted Township recreation funds. Adhering to the Park and Recreation Plan, the Township earmarked funds to be used for the research and development of the recommended indoor Recreational Community Center.
RESEARCH COMPLETED SO FAR:
Having completed the Park and Recreation Plan for UMT in 2011, Keystone Consulting Engineers began a new feasibility study to update the Township Recreation Plan providing current and future recreation needs while maintaining and improving the quality of life as the current plan has successfully done for the past seven years. The new Feasibility Study focused on the following areas:
- Identifying resident indoor recreational needs, wants, and recreational usage
- Estimating baseline facility construction costs and feasibility with regard to budget
- Estimating baseline operational costs and revenue opportunities to determine feasible facility size and amenities
- Creating sketch designs satisfying the above areas to and further estimate costs
Keystone analyzed population demographics and community needs using the 2010 census, the National Recreation Parks Association, and the Township GIS. The data confirmed Upper Macungie Township’s population would support a Community Center.
(Executive Summary of Feasibility Study) (Complete Feasibility Study Report)
A “Wish List” was compiled using feedback from the UMT Recreation Board, an informal Steering Committee of township residents, as well as Township staff (click here to view the Wish List) Construction costs, operational expenses, and possible revenues streams of Wish List items were estimated to determine which were within budget parameters, and which, if any, provided revenue to assist in offsetting operating costs. Grange Road Park was chosen as the location affording plenty of open space, in addition to the use of existing permits. If existing permits are used prior to their expiration, the Township could save approximately $200,000.00.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION OPTIONS:
With the above information, Keystone Consulting Engineers, Architect Howard Kulp, and UMT Staff generated sketch facility designs to help further estimate the cost of construction and operation of Wish List amenities. It was determined that phasing the construction could accomplish meeting community needs and wants through the lowest financial impact to residents. The phased construction could be broken down into three or more phases. Completion of the building as well as building aesthetics would be dependent on funding. Amenities built would be determined from the feasibility study and the results of the survey we are currently requesting residents complete.
Example of Possible Phased Construction:
Phase 1– A fully functional building meeting basic immediate needs of the township determined in the feasibility study and this survey. Based on current research it could cost approximately $6.5 to $7 Million dollars and could include two gymnasiums, a fitness center, multi-purpose workout rooms, rent-able community rooms, and locker rooms. Estimated annual operating expenses for this facility could be $446,473.00
Phase 2– Would be the addition of an amenity in high demand determined by the feasibility study and this survey. Based on current research it could cost approximately $2,500,000.00. Estimated annual operating expenses would increase in proportion with the amenity added.
Phase 3– Would be the addition of an amenity in high demand determined by the feasibility study and this survey. Based on current research it could cost approximately $2,500,000.00. Estimated annual operating expenses would increase in proportion with the amenity added.
Fiscal responsibility is a high priority for your Township Officials and staff demonstrated by repeatedly balancing the budget and not increasing resident taxes while acquiring park lands and protecting open spaces. To fund the phased construction of this building with the lowest financial impact to residents the Township would consider the following primary funding strategies:
Primary Funding Sources
- Developers’ Recreation Fees
- Township Reserve Funds
- Grants- All relevant Grants will be applied for
- Explore private & corporate donations/sponsorships
Additional funding methods could be used if amenities requested by residents should exceed the results of the primary funding methods, or if residents request the entire building be constructed at one time and not phased:
Secondary Funding Sources
- Further pursuit of private & corporate donations/sponsorships
- Additional Township Reserve Funds
- Real Estate Taxes (tax base is currently 50% Commercial & Industrial, and 50% Residential)
- Municipal Bond or Loan- If this option is used, it could result in a Real Estate Tax Base increase (Borrowing money through Loans or Bonds which could result in a Real-Estate Tax Base Increase (tax base is currently 50% Commercial & Industrial, and 50% Residential). This may equate to approximately $50 per year for a home assessed at $200,000)
OPERATING THE FACILITY:
Once open and operating, the average Community Center is not completely self-sustainable. Annual operating expenses for the Phase 1 building are roughly estimated to be $446,473.00 per year. The township would make every effort for facility revenues (fees from all types of facility usage) to offset the estimated annual operating expenses. Based on similar facilities, we can estimate revenues to be $454,700.00 if membership and program fee revenue goals are met.
However, if membership and fee revenue goals are not met, it is likely the facility would rely on support from Township general funds or recreation funds to some degree. A detailed list of estimated operating expenses and possible revenues are view-able within the feasibility study.
THE 2017 SURVEY:
The survey was offered online and in hard copy via the township newsletter. Results of the survey were presented in the July Board of Supervisors meeting, and have been available on this web page. All public meeting schedules are available at https://www.uppermac.org/boards-commissions/. As always, residents are encouraged to attend all monthly meetings.