As the Douglas County Community and Senior Center continues to rise up from Herbig Park in Gardnerville, Community Services Director Scott Morgan says the most frequent question he’s asked is, “What are you building?”
The answer is an 83,225-square-foot center that officials predict will serve the community — cradle to grave — for the next hundred years.
The $16.9 million center is on schedule and expected to be open for business in February 2015.
Every Wednesday, representatives of the design committee, senior advisory committee, county parks and recreation boards, staff and county commission tour the 19-acre site to watch Douglas County’s largest public works project come to life.
Morgan is preparing to launch a webcam so viewers can watch construction.
“Everything we learned building the Kahle Community Center, we’ve put into practice here,” Morgan said as he led a tour Wednesday. “Only this is three times bigger. It’s Kahle on steroids.”
Depending on the day of the week, Morgan said there are between 28 and 90 workers on the site with an average of about 40.
Participants in the tour Wednesday included architect Pat Pusich and CORE Construction project manager Travis Coombs.
Coombs said the project was on schedule.
“I’m one of those guys who believes fit body, fit mind,” Pusich said in an interview. “The building will give the citizens of Douglas County an opportunity to be fit year-round, not only their athletic abilities, but their minds,” he said.
Pusich said the firm, Tate Snyder Kimsey of Reno, remains with the project through completion and opening.
“We wanted to make sure there is an agricultural look to the building and it fits in with the historical palette of Minden and Gardnerville,” he said. “The owner (the county) is doing a great job. They have a lot of ideas and we have been meeting with the Douglas County team weekly for the last six months. It’s got to the point where we’re almost peers. Nobody is afraid to say anything, or feel like something is a dumb idea.”
Larry Sidney, a member of the Douglas County Community Services Foundation, said he was honored to be part of the process.
“I think it’s very exciting for everyone just to know the county is in a position to provide this for the whole community,” he said. “This is not just for young kids or seniors. Every single person can benefit from this.”
Senior Services Manager Travis Lee estimated at least five new couples a week stop by the Douglas County Senior Center to ask about the new building.
“They are drawn by this project, and so excited to relocate here,” Lee said.
Morgan said the only facility in the western United States, which comes close to the new community center, is in Arizona.
“We’re building a family opportunity center,” he said. “It allows families to take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones. It’s a place for kids to go after school. It’s a place for seniors to go during the day.”
Morgan said he’s heard criticism that the center is “big government.” He calls it “big community.”
He said the center will offer an opportunity for families to “avoid the horrible scenario” of placing someone in a nursing home because nothing is available during the day to provide care for their loved ones.
With senior day care services, an expanded dining program and the community health department under one roof, residents will have more options.
“One day, your life will change for reasons you cannot know,” Morgan said. “The center will be a low-cost way to keep your life running normally for as long as possible. These services represent ‘a sip vs. a gulp’ in your life.”
What officials found with the Kahle Community Center is that it changed the way residents perceived each other.
“We get to know our neighbors again,” Morgan said.