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Next Phase of Community Center Unveiled

Center: Out with the Old

The Herndon Community Center was built in the late 1970s and, in a way, the construction has not stopped.

Last week at a work session, the Herndon Town Council saw the proposed plans for Phase IV of the center's construction. The plans call for the original 45,000-square-foot portion of the center to be torn down and rebuilt to a size of 56,000 square feet. The new section will be constructed so that it can support a future 11,000-square-foot second floor, will include a new, single entrance and additional parking is also planned during this phase.

"Right now, it's a hulk of masonry. It's hard to tell where to enter," said Wayne Hughes, of Hughes Group Architects, which has developed three of the center's four phases. "We want to create a rotunda entry with a portico from the parking lot to the entry."

THE PROPOSED CHANGES, said Hughes, will enlarge the fitness center space, which will be relocated to the current dance room, add a new game and teen room, increase the arts and crafts room, create a large and a small meeting room, and give staff adequate office space. In addition, parking along Ferndale Avenue and in front of the existing tennis courts will be added, which will create 60-plus more spaces.

"We started planning the community center in 1976 and its been ongoing ever seen," said Arthur Anselene, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Herndon. "As the community has grown, the center has grown."

Anselene said the next step is for more detailed plans to be created and to create the bid documents needed to award the construction contract. Funding for the estimated $3.3 million project will come from a $7.3 million bond issue in fiscal year 2004, which also includes the construction of the Herndon Police facility, he said. The project will still need to go through the usual conditional-use permit process as well.

"Hopefully we can award the contract by May, with construction beginning next summer," Anselene said. "We're looking at adding temporary facilities during the process and things will be moved around."

The staff is loosing the flexibility to move programs around the existing building while construction takes place due to some design changes, however, the goal is to not have to cancel any of the programs during the 12- to 16-month construction period.

"We're looking at how we can soften some stuff." Anselene said of the construction impact.

THE SCOPE OF THE RENOVATION was driven by responses to an annual customer survey and input from staff. In addition, an independent consultant did a market analysis in 1999, evaluating what services were available through other sources and what services were needed in the town.

The plans were also limited by the size of the existing facility, said Anselene, since the town did not have available land around the center to build out further than the current footprint.

The rebuild also makes sense financially, Anselene said, since the original portion of the center has reached the point where it needs new mechanical systems and roof replacement.

Even still, the new center will probably not be large enough, creating a need to be able to expand upwards, instead of outwards, when more funding is available.

"I have no doubt that if we build the whole thing, there would be enough demand that we could fill it," Anselene said.

Hughes said the design of the center would be more civic and friendly, especially with the rotunda. In addition, the single entrance will help with security. The additional parking on Ferndale Avenue will include streetscaping, he said, "to maintain the rural character of the road."

"I say bravo. I think this is handsome," said Mayor Richard Thoesen, of the design.