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Signs point to old library's future

It could begin new life as a community center in 2010

Dec. 7, 2009

Greenfield — The interior of the former Greenfield Public Library looks a lot different these days.

The books, shelves, computers and tables are long gone, moved to the new library across from Konkel Park earlier this year.

So far, it's remained mostly empty. A few mats sit on the eastern part of what is now essentially a giant room, and a few tables for meetings sit in the middle.

But some city officials and residents hope it won't be that way for too much longer.

Centered on an idea

Members of the community and the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department have designs on bringing the space to life in 2010 as part of the plan to turn the building into a community center.

A committee has met monthly to go over fundraising goals and plans for the 10,000-square-foot facility at 7215 W. Cold Spring Road. Some recreation programming and groups have already started using the building.

The inside won't change drastically. Plans call for a multipurpose room capable of hosting banquets and special events, an activity room for midsize or small groups and studio space for dance and fitness classes, preschool activities and birthday parties.

"It's real simple, real basic," said Karen Malecki, older adult and volunteer services supervisor with the Parks and Recreation Department, noting the building has begun playing host to children's gymnastics classes and some meetings.

A place to rent too?

Besides city recreation programs, a key component of the building's future could be renting the space to outside groups.

When the Common Council approved converting the building into a community center rather than selling it, aldermen said it must be self-sufficient, generating enough revenue to offset expenses.

Among other uses, city officials envision the building as a future site of events like wedding receptions. They have said Greenfield lacks facilities to hold those types of outings and hope residents will use the new center to address that need.

"I want to stress this is for our community," Malecki said. "This is for the residents. They already paid for the building."

Malecki hopes enough money will be raised through rental fees to offset costs but said some fundraising may have to continue to pay for utility costs. A $140,000 energy efficient grant has also been secured.

Neighborly direction

Organizers in Greenfield could stand to learn a little from their western neighbors, New Berlin. The former library there was also converted into a community center.

Members of Greenfield's community center committee toured the facility and came away with ideas on how the new space might be used and how programs could be expanded.

"It gave us a good idea for what we could do in Greenfield," said Donald Carlson, a former alderman and member of the community center committee.

Finding funds

To renovate the building, organizers are shooting for $300,000 in donations.

Fundraising will officially kick off with a gala event in February, but the Parks and Recreation Department has begun soliciting businesses for sponsorships, donations and gifts.

Carlson said he expects fundraisers will get a lot of support from the community as the committee goes forward in its conversion plans.

"The building is going to be a great asset for the community," Carlson said. "I've talked to quite a few members of the community and they're really excited about it becoming a community center."

FYI

To get involved with the Greenfield community center effort, call the Parks and Recreation Department at (414) 329-5370.

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