MANSON - Half of Manson's former elementary school building will soon be torn down, making room for future developments.
The school was closed in 2009, but was given new life in 2013 when it was transformed into the Manson Area Community Center. The gymnasium and several rooms on the north end became a recreation center, while the former cafeteria was refurbished into a multipurpose room.
After a successful year of fitness, the MACCenter board is ready for Phase II - tearing down most of the old classrooms to build new spaces.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Kathy Hoyer, front desk supervisor at the Manson Area Community Center, walks around the full-sized gym at the facility. The gym can be divided in half.
"As far as the new community center, as we envision it," said Joe Horan, Phase II chairman of the MACCenter board, "it would be a facility large enough for a 400 to 500 person wedding reception, with kitchen and restrooms. A separate part of that would be a senior citizens' congregate meals site. Our old congregate meals site is in need of replacement."
The building still belongs to the Manson Northwest Webster school district, Horan said, and a decision has now been reached on how much of the building to save.
"We are going to truncate the building right at the multipurpose room," said Superintendent Mark Egli. "Nothing south will be there."
Two of the three wings which jut out to the east from the building will be torn down, Egli said. About 40 feet of the northernmost wing will be kept, but the walls will be taken out leaving the space as a patio.
A firm is being lined up for the asbestos abatement, and demolition itself is slated for this summer "at a tune of about $390,000," he said.
The school would have had to tear down the building anyway; having the MACCenter located there means it doesn't have to tear down quite as much.
Horan said the board hopes to reuse and recycle throughout the demolition process.
"We are working on some grants now to re-use the materials, brick and glass, steel beams, those kinds of things," he said.
Now that the board knows what is being torn down, it can look at heating and cooling systems for the multipurpose room.
"There are heaters in there, but they don't keep up with that big old room. They're sort of supplemental heaters," Horan said.
Making the MACCenter a reality was done in phases, Horan said, because the project was too big to do all at once.
"It seemed the fitness part of the project - one, it was the most in-demand, and, two, it would pay the bills," he said. "Plus, it was the easiest."
Fitness Director Josh Sturgis said the recreation side has been a big hit with the community.
"We started off in January 2013 officially, with no memberships," Sturgis said, "and as of now, we have 291. That's exceeded everyone's expectations of what it could do."
There are four yoga classes a week, with about 32 members total, he said.
"We're also offering personal training, and working on some additional classes, whether boot camp, fall prevention for seniors, mobility enhancement, those kind of things," he added.
The center has also brought more organization to Manson's youth sports leagues, Strugis said.
"Youth sports leagues have always been, my kid plays tee-ball so I will be the coach. And next year we have a new coach," he said. "The MACCenter has been able expand on that a little more and help organize how the league is run, coaching the coaches, developing a little more of the foundation of the sport. Making sure the kids have the opportunity to learn some drills and fundamentals, keeping that going through the year. So there's a lot of potential for our youth leagues."
Center organizers are now working on creating a league with the surrounding towns so children can have quality competitions in tee-ball, flag football, basketball and potentially soccer.
The fitness center will continue to expand, he said.
"We have a lot of plans, continuing to add some equipment, continuing to update the facility, whether that's painting the locker rooms, fixing shower stalls," said Sturgis. "That's the good thing - it's using the space that's already there and maintaining it. Otherwise they tend to decompose."