An update, and more.
Realizing certain sobering financial truths, the SHHA and SHCF boards have in the past few months pursued all practical alternatives to lower the costs of our new Community Center. For many good reasons, noted below, we have turned to a fresh, dynamic new design concept offering a much lower cost to the community. We want to introduce the new design to the community on June 8 and seek your comments. More about the meeting and the new concept below, but first a look at how we came to this point.
Construction projects, particularly those that are managed by volunteers, and which require substantial voluntary donations, can be a very humbling experience. So it has been for our Community Center project. We began this development over 7 years ago and persevered through agonizing stops and starts – we all suffered – finally reaching a build-ready project with all boxes checked. However, with ever-increasing construction costs, we needed to raise more money. So, in November 2018, after the Fire Board approved a lease for space in and use of the Community Center, we launched Round 2 fundraising. In spite of best efforts we fell short – and we simply could not extend the time to fundraise and still hold onto construction costs. Put another way, the demolition/ground-up construction design became too expensive. Faced with these realities, the boards of the Homes Association and the Charitable Foundations voted to move away from the old design and turn our attention to a more feasible alternative - the Community Center Renovation.
Let’s not forget the significant, tangible evidence of community support and why we are doing this:
The community raised over $800,000 in the Round 1 fundraising campaign 4 or 5 years ago. Round 2 fundraising raised about $550,000 in cash and pledges in less than 6 months. Plus, 10 Sleepy Hollow neighbors volunteered to loan $100,000 each to help fund the project. Over 350 families have contributed to this project! Thank you to all neighbors who made these generous commitments.
Our community center, always central to our charter, needs a major renovation to preserve and extend its useful life for the next generations. With new families moving in and many of our residents becoming seniors, our community space must flex to benefit all ages and a wider range of interests. With the heightened awareness of fire danger and other potential disasters, we need a community center that can be home to our SHFPD and a haven for us in emergencies while also serving the civic, social, and educational needs of residents.
And here’s the path forward:
With the creative work of a volunteer architect, structural engineer, and interior designer in our community a beautiful new design – the Community Center Renovation – has been developed which retains much of the core concepts of the prior program while significantly reducing construction costs. The design eliminates a second story (good news for some of you) but preserves over 85% of the prior plan’s square footage. We think the uses of the interior space have been enhanced. A preliminary meeting with County Planning Department suggests the look and feel of the new design building and its uses are consistent with the old, approved design. We are committed to working with the SHFPD to provide the vital space, access, and platform for critical disaster preparedness, education, and emergency recovery. And, we have priced the design concept with the help of an independent professional Cost Estimator; we still need to develop construction design drawings and recruit bids to verify pricing. However, we hope to reduce project costs by more than $1M compared to the old design.
Here is a brief list of important features of the Community Center Renovation:
- One-story design that is 1050 square feet larger than the current clubhouse.
- Relies on the existing footprint and sound structural elements, including the beams in the original clubhouse and the existing concrete pad.
- The renovation can potentially be underway this fall and we would be enjoying our new spaces nine months later.
- The Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District would still have separate, private office space in the building and access to all the features they require.
- The building could still rapidly transform into a recovery center in the event of a disaster, with CERT storage, emergency potable water and emergency power.
- The building would be a quiet, but open-daily center for our community to gather and meet, enjoy a cup of coffee, or do work on a day-to-day basis.
- An exercise facility for residents and the Swim Team can still be included.
- The open interiors can flex from 1 to 2 spaces and for multiple uses: day-to-day individual or small group gatherings, classes, meetings, and entertainments, work/study opportunities. And we will have the space for our traditional cherished events such as the 4th of July and the President’s Party (and to establish new traditions).
- Due to the lower cost of construction, we will have a Community Center more sustainable at historical membership levels.
- Learn more on June 8.
From a financial perspective the new Community Center Renovation will still need your support. We must raise up to $500,000 in cash and pledges (down from nearly $1M we faced in the old plan) and will require roughly $500,000 in private lending (down from $1M). We have an adequate commercial loan in place. Importantly, we are counting on those of you who have previously pledged contributions to honor those pledges going forward. And then we need those of you who have not yet given financially to vote with your checkbooks. The success of the project depends entirely on your support. (We also need more residents to become involved in the fundraising outreach; please be willing to talk to your neighbors, make a few calls. Let us know if you will be willing to volunteer as a fundraiser).
We invite you to attend the Town Hall, Saturday June 8 starting at 3:00 pm at the Clubhouse when we will introduce the new design and describe the details of the Community Center Renovation. This will be an open forum and we welcome your questions and input. We plan follow up meetings as necessary for those who cannot participate June 8. Please try to come June 8 before summer schedules make it harder for people to come together. We would very much like to move this project forward and we need your moral and financial support. When you see the new design and understand the savings and benefits, we think you will share our excitement and belief that Together We Can Do This.
Sleepy Hollow Homes Association, Scott Hintergardt, President
Sleepy Hollow Charitable Foundation, Jan Blackford, President