Woodslee shares vision for proposed community center

Filed under: Headline,In Our Community |

WoodsleeArchitectsby Sylene Argent

Recently, the Town of Lakeshore announced it would replace the existing Millen Community Center with a new $2.1 million facility.

The Woodslee community will use the new building for recreational activities, a library, and community clubs.

Last Wednesday, representatives of Archon Architect Incorporated met with the community and members of Lakeshore Council at the existing building to hear ideas as to how the new building should be designed.

Town of Lakeshore Director of Community and Developmental Services Steve Salmons noted the current Millen Community Center has served the community well, but it is in need of extensive upgrading.

“Council has been studying this over the last year and has come to the conclusion that the best solution…is to start over,” Salmons said.

Having mulled over options on what to do with the existing community center, Lakeshore Council decided to build a facility that meets and responds to the needs of the community, and decided on Archon as the project architects to lead the design services.

Robert Di Maio of Archon said that one of the reasons he and colleague Settimo Vilardi were meeting with the community was to receive ideas from those who will benefit from the facility.

“It’s a pleasure to be here tonight to work with you to develop the new community center and library,” Di Maio said. “It really is important architects listen…as architects the principal role is to listen and adhere to the program you all [want],” he said.

The firm, he added, was approved to the project the night before at the public open house at the Lakeshore Council meeting.

During the open house, Di Maio said they wanted to present their ideas for the facility and get ideas from the community. Vilardi commented he hopes to have the schematic design concept complete by the end of the month.

The new building could be completed as early as the end of January 2014 if the timeline they laid out for the process is adhered to.

Vilardi highlighted three construction options that are being considered. The options include building the new facility either to the north (closer to the road) or the east of the existing facility, or to demolish the old building and rebuild in the same spot. Building the new facility closer to the road, he said, is one of the more interesting of the options.

The new facility, Vilardi said, will be similar in size to the current facility. Half of the 6,000 square foot building would be designated to the multi-purpose/community room, 2000 square feet is planned for the library, with 1000 square feet reserved for service space, which includes items like washrooms and electrical rooms. Being able to size the spacing of each area is dependent on what the occupancy will be. The community room will have storage area and a kitchen of some size.

Some of the members of the community at the meeting thought 6,000 square feet would not be big enough as there is already trouble accommodating the recreational activities at the current facility. Salmons noted that the current community center was formerly a school and was not designed to be a community center, which creates a lot of wasted space between the hallways and offices. The 6000 square foot, Salmons said, is a ballpark figure.

Wayne Currie represented the community center user groups during the meeting. He said he believes 8000 square feet would be better, keeping in mind not only the current community center users, but future programs as well.

Lakeshore Councillor Linda McKinlay liked the idea one of the meeting attendees gave, which was to incorporate the area’s history into the design. She suggested people think about what the facility would be used for in the future.

Joanne McMurren of the Woodslee Friendship Club suggested the architects look into a way the club could set up its tables for card playing on Monday and not have to take them down until Friday, if possible. Currently the club plays around three times a week, which accounts for several set-ups and take-downs. Vilardi said he could also look into more functional ways of dealing with the issue.

It was suggested at the meeting to have accessibility to washrooms for baseball players or those who utilize the walking track. Other community members suggested looking into a way to incorporate floor shuffleboard and to have the kitchen accessible to the outside of the building for outdoor programming, such as baseball.

There are many causes for celebration at the Millen Community Center this year. The new building is one reason, which Donna Roubos, President of the Woodslee Friendship Club, is excited for. Other celebrations surround the club’s 30th Anniversary, and the 50th anniversary of the Dr. S.F. Millen School.

In order to recognize the anniversary milestones, a Double Celebration Open House will take place on June 2 from 1-4 p.m. The event will serve as a reunion of past students and teachers. The community is invited to join in the festivities, especially those who formerly attended the school. A photo display will be on site for the event participants to enjoy.

McMurren explained the Dr. S.F. Millen School incorporated students from the Ruscom School, the SS #2, and SS #15. Students who attended these schools are invited to take part in the special celebration also.

The Dr. S.F. Millen School closed in June 1980, Roubos noted. Soon after, Rochester Township purchased the building as a community center. The Woodslee Friendship Clubs offers old and new ideas and is open to more diversification.

Leading up to the celebration event, Roubos and the Woodslee Friendship Club are trying to discover where a time capsule is buried and the name of the first baby delivered by Dr. Millen. If anyone has any information, contact Donna 519-975-2634 or Joanne 519-975-2409.