A visual tour inside Concord’s new community center

  • The new test kitchen at the City Wide Community Center has home appliances making it easy for students to translate lessons back home. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • The new City Wide Community Center has a brand new high school sized gym fully equipped with six adjustable basketball hoops and several different sports boundary lines painted on the floor. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • The senior lounge in the new City Wide Community Center provides a space for seniors to come and play games, read a book or just hang out. Drop-in hours are hosted Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • A view of the lobby at the new City Wide Community Center shows both entrances. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • The auditorium at the new City Wide Community Center was built out of the original 1941 schoolhouse, an aspect of the project the community strived to keep. The space can used for various functions. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • The rear entrance of the City Wide Community Center looks out to Keach Park. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • One of the program rooms at the new City Wide Community Center is set up for a business style meeting. Parks and Recreation Director David Gill said the rooms can be set up for nearly any function. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • A view of the new City Wide Community Center as seen from Canterbury Road. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

  • The front entrance of the new City Wide Community Center faces the parking spaces and Canterbury Road. Jacob Dawson—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

In the entryway of Concord’s new City Wide Community Center, the old meets the new.

Inside the front door, across from the reception desk, the old Dame School brick walls contrast the new green plaster ones.

“The community asked for the original 1941 schoolhouse,” Parks and Recreation Director David Gill said as he detailed the work that needed to be done. The schoolhouse was renovated into an auditorium, which needed spray insulation in the walls, LEDs, and updates to the stage and ceiling.

Next to the auditorium in the community center that opened this week is the test kitchen, which was integrated into the auditorium with an open service window and a door. 

“The kitchen has home appliances… Learning is made easy when you learn on home appliances,” Gill said. He noted that no matter who is learning how to cook, the students can apply the same concepts to their appliances at home. The kitchen also has a side entrance, so if a group rented out the auditorium, they can hire a caterer to use the kitchen. Conversely, if a group rented out the auditorium and doesn’t need the kitchen, it can be blocked off to host a cooking class at the same time. There is also a snack bar for larger events where candy and drinks will be sold.

Tables and high chairs can be brought into the kitchen for lessons. The added bonus here is how it doesn’t matter what you’re cooking. You’ll take away the transferable skills needed to make great food. The open layout of the kitchen lends itself to collaborative workshops. Two ovens and range tops provide enough space for people to cook side by side. 

Across the hall from the kitchen and auditorium is the brand new, high school-sized gym. Fully equipped with six adjustable basketball hoops, a drop-down curtain that can separate the space in two, tall windows looking out on to Keach Park and boundary lines for several sports painted on the floor, the gym can used for countless activities. 

Many of the program rooms are housed in the “1960s wing” of the old school, a long hallway on the north end of the building where the concrete walls are still clearly visible. In total, the center boasts four program rooms, two exercise rooms, a senior lounge, a branch of the public library, an auditorium with a small stage, a teaching kitchen with home appliances, locker rooms, a high school-sized gym and offices for the parks and recreation department officials, all while sitting adjacent to the tennis, soccer, basketball and baseball fields of Keach Park. 

“We heard loud and clear from the community that they wanted great access to the park,” Gill said.

There is still a construction fence separating the new building from the park, but it will come down soon – once the grass takes root. This will open up the fields more where electrical outlets have been integrated to host concerts and movies on the lawn throughout the summer. Red River Theaters has partnered with Concord Parks and Recreation to bring these movies to the lawn, free of charge.

The lobby of the new center has an open design plan with two main entrances. The main entrance on the east side faces the parking area looking out to Canterbury Road while the west side entrance faces Keach Park.

“We wanted the back of the building to be just as attractive as the front,” Gill said. This design layout also gives the staff at the reception desk the opportunity to see people walking in from both sets of doors.

The multigenerational side of the community center comes in the form of a senior lounge and four pickleball courts painted on the gym floor. The senior lounge will host senior drop-in hours Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. through 1 p.m. where people can come in to play games, read a book or just hang out. Additionally, parks and rec will host many classes and activities that cater to adult interests.  

Two exercise rooms are equipped with rubber floors and a wall of mirrors ideal for hosting dance, yoga, Tai Chi and other classes. Lastly, the library will have a rotation of books, digital media and laptops available for rent. The library will be open 15 hours per week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. When the library is not open, the room can be rented out.

On Monday, a small cart of books was waiting inside the library room with chairs and tables scattered about. There’s a desk where patrons can check out their desired literature or devices. 

Gill said the challenge of integrating the old and the new went well. Tying everything together was accomplished by using the existing structures of the old buildings while updating spaces with modern amenities. Insulation was added where needed, fully digital temperature control and upgraded information technology are just some of the new features.

“All the lights are automatic,” Gill said, noting energy efficiency was a large part of the construction. 

Gill said the project is coming in on time and with a cost of $8 million, $400,000 more than originally planned.

“Some of the smaller details are taking a little longer than expected,” he said. HL Turner Group and Milestone Construction were contracted by the city and Gill said they don’t want to leave the project until everything is perfect.

One part that has fallen behind is the completion of the locker rooms. Slated to be complete in July, the lockers are on back order. 

Despite the minor finishes being done, Gill said the center is open for business. While they are still getting used to the new space, they will grow into it as the summer progresses, while also making adjustments for the fall.

More information about programs and classes are available at www.concordparksandrec.com.

(Jacob Dawson can be reached at 369-3325, jdawson@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @jaked156.)