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Shelby Township plans September opening for new activity center

Library floor plan coming together

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 3, 2019

SHELBY TOWNSHIP  — Shelby Township is making big moves with the construction or renovation of two key buildings.

After many months of discussion and planning, the township will begin building the new activity and senior center, and it is progressing with the floor plan for the library.

To celebrate the grand opening of the activity and senior center, the township has decided to throw a celebration and invite the community to come out and see it from noon to 3 p.m. Sept. 28 at the old Boys & Girls Club, located at 14975 21 Mile Road.

“The initial budget for renovations at the former Boys & Girls Club that was approved by the Board of Trustees was $1.5 million, and we are on our way to open the activities center within that budget,” said Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis.

“Estimated construction costs came in lower than expected, and I am confident the team led by Trustee Lynn Wilhelm; Parks, Recreation and Maintenance Director Joe Youngblood; and Township Engineer Carol Thurber will be under budget on this project and ready to open in time for the grand opening celebration Sept. 28,” he said.

The activity and senior center building stands on 8.04 acres and has 25,000 square feet.

“We are just starting the renovations,” Youngblood said in an email.

Youngblood said that the gymnasium will be a big hit for the community.

“I feel the gymnasium will be a wonderful feature since we can now offer active recreation programs for our residents (pickleball, walking indoors, basketball, volleyball). The gym can also be rented for use, and we will offer birthday party rentals on the weekends. During the week, the senior center staff has been working on a full slate of active recreational programs for the gym,” he said.

Stathakis said that this was all possible without raising taxes or incurring debt.

“This new facility with a 7,500-square-foot gym will provide our residents with endless recreation opportunities for generations. The ability to provide such an asset without raising taxes, without bonding and without any kind of debt is a testament to the hard work of our Board of Trustees and all of our township employees,” Stathakis said.

The library’s current building is 12,500 square feet, and the new library building will be just over 26,000 square feet. The floor plan will need final approval from the Board of Trustees, and then requests for proposals from builders will commence.

The library floor plan includes all details as to what the library will look like. It will sit across from the band shell, where music is played on the municipal campus.

“The new location on the municipal campus is perfect for the library. First, we will be close to most municipal services, and we look forward to working closely on campus with the rest of the township departments. Additionally, the location itself is spectacular. We will have a lovely park-like setting for the new library. The back of the building will be mostly glass and will overlook the park and band shell area,” Katie Ester, the library director, said in an email.

“It’s a beautiful view, and our architects made sure that the building makes good use of windows and natural light to take advantage of the natural setting,” said Ester.

Ester took part in working with the engineers and said many of the details that went into putting the floor plan into place were taken from suggestions that the community had provided to the library.

“We have been taking suggestions from the public for years,” she said.

“Every time a resident has filled out a suggestion form, sat in my office, leaned over our check-out desk to hurriedly whisper, ‘I wish the library had ... ,’ we’ve made note of all those ideas. When we first started the planning process, we came armed with a list of our top priorities from years of listening to our community. The architects, engineers and design team really listened to our needs and have been remarkable at giving us so much of what we need in a wonderfully workable space. Our new library will fulfill all the needs that we brought to the table in an efficient and engaging way,” said Ester.

Ester said she is glad that the library will now offer space designed specifically for the library, unlike the buildings in the past.

“I think the updated, modernized space will be hugely welcomed by the community. Having a building that is designed specifically to be a library is a new concept for us here in Shelby Township,” she said.

“Both of our library spaces prior to the new library have been designed for other uses. First, the Shelby Township Library was located in the basement of the municipal building, and then we moved into the former Disco Elementary building. Our new library will truly be the first space this community has ever had that is designed to be a fully functional library space.

“I believe our residents will be thrilled when they see a much larger children’s area with a separate storytime room, community meeting rooms, individual and group study rooms, a separate teen area, a technology lab and a reading lounge. There will be so much added value for our community,” she said.

During the event to celebrate the grand opening of the activity center, the community will be able to tour the activity center and enjoy music, food trucks, bounce houses, crafts, games and more.

Fazal Kahn & Associates is the engineering firm that will be working with the township to construct the buildings.

“The process of planning the new Shelby Township Library has been joyful work,” Ester said.

“We have an outstanding team of architects, engineers and designers that are working with us to plan a library that meets our needs and is a functional yet beautiful space. Obtaining our Planning Commission’s approval is an exciting step towards our groundbreaking day. Truthfully, every step that gets our Shelby Township residents closer to walking through the doors of their new library is a thrilling one,” she said.

For more information, call the township at (586) 731-5100.