In the basement of Brookview Community Center in Golden Valley, about a half-dozen tree trunks serve as posts holding up the floor above. The best guess is that they’ve been in place since the oldest portions of Brookview were built 97 years ago.
Perhaps those trunks could do their job for a few more years, but city leaders don’t want to find out.
Earlier this month, the Golden Valley City Council instructed its staff to move ahead with plans for an $18 million Brookview replacement. While council members still must take a final vote on the project, their unanimous message to staff sent a clear signal that they are committed to completing a project that’s been under discussion for the last two years.
“I’m excited about it. I think this will be good for the city,” said Council Member Joanie Clausen. “Brookview is an investment. It’s part of our infrastructure.”
Details of the new center, being designed by the Minneapolis architectural firm HGA, aren’t yet complete. But the concept calls for a structure of 37,000 square feet, about twice the size of the current building, that will include larger banquet facilities and an indoor children’s play area.
A citizens’ task force earlier this year had advanced a more ambitious approach. The task force recommended a $38 million structure of 79,000 square feet — what some members called an “iconic” building. But the council rejected that idea as well as the notion of remodeling the existing building.
John Kluchka, a member of the task force and a former chair of the city’s Planning Commission, said he’s “thrilled” with the outcome.
“It’s definitely going to be an improvement over what we have,” he said. “It is absolutely better than trying to renovate the existing building. I do personally feel that I would have liked to see something that had a higher level of investment. But I certainly recognize that there are those not willing to make those investments.”
Mayor Shep Harris was also an advocate of the iconic approach, but said that the final outcome was a good compromise.
“From a safety standpoint, from a viability standpoint, this was long overdue,” he said. “I applaud the City Council and the community for stepping up and realizing the need to do this for the future of our community.”
The city plans to pay for the new center with a 20-year lease-purchase loan through its Housing and Redevelopment Authority. It estimates that a median-value home in Golden Valley — approximately $250,000 — will see a property tax hike of about $9 a month to pay back the bond and cover operations for the center.
“The money is staggering,” Clausen said. “I still worry about our debt. But this building is crumbling. It’s falling down. We have to maintain our infrastructure.”