New Crown Center will still operate at a loss

A rendering of the planned Crown Center, looking northeast from the intersection of Main Street and Dodge Avenue.

Budget projections from city staff indicate that the new Robert Crown Community Center will still require an annual operating subsidy from city taxpayers -- though the subsidy is forecast to be smaller than it is now.

Aldermen are scheduled to give the final go-ahead for the Crown project Monday.

A neighborhood meeting to discuss construction plans is set for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and a formal groundbreaking is scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, both at the 1701 Main St. site.


A rendering of one of two planned ice rinks at the new center.

The budget numbers, included in the packet for Monday's City Council meeting, project that with the expanded facilities ice rink revenue will increase more than 60 percent while rink expenses increase 37 percent.

Community center revenue is forecast to increase by over 15 percent while community center expenses go up 9 percent.


A rendering of the planned gymnasium on the second floor of the center.

Unlike the budget for the current rink, the new one includes a $200,000 annual set-aside to establish a long-range maintenance fund.

If that had been included in the current budget, the center would show a 41 percent shortfall between revenue and expenses, compared to a projected 18 percent shortfall in the projections for the new center.

The budget projections don't indicate whether they include operations of the new center's planned library branch.


A rendering of the proposed branch library at the center.

The City Council Monday is scheduled to give final approval to the sale of $50 million in bonds to fund construction of the center, to approve a $47.7 million guaranteed maxiumum price contract with Bulley & Andrews to build the facility and to amend its existing design contract with Woodhouse Tinucci Architects to add $1.1 million to cover construction administration and other services.

The latest construction cost figure includes substitution of more expensive recycled ethylene propylene diene monomer for less expensive crumb rubber as infill for the artificial turf fields amid questions about potential health risks associated with the crumb rubber product.

The non-profit Friends of the Robert Crown Center has raised $11.4 million in cash and pledges to fund a portion of the center's cost. About $3 million of that is expected to be delivered as cash funding for the project this year. The remainder will be used for debt service on the bonds the city issues for the project.

Total up-front cost of the project is now estimated at $53.3 million, with interest on the bonds expected to add another $33.4 million to the cost by the time the last of them are paid off in 2044.

The Crown project has been the subject of about 16 public meetings in the past 18 months, and earlier efforts to develop a replacement for the existing 1970s-vintage structure go back more than a decade.

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crown centet

The crown center is hole to flush taxpayers money down the drain!