Outlook Brightening For Civic Center

April 18, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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HOLLAND – The Holland City Council has selected an architectural firm to design improvements for the Civic Center, but that doesn’t mean the 46-year-old structure will see new life.

GMB Architects of Holland will be paid $9,500, plus reimbursable fees, to present options to the City Council committee in charge of Civic Center renovations. It will be up to the council to decide whether to implement the plans.

Soils and Structures Inc. of Muskegon will be paid $1,600 for structural and soil engineering, to review plans, make an inspection of the present building and make a report to the 19-member Civic Center committee.

City Manager Soren Wolff said GMB and the committee will consider three alternatives, all of which boil down to economics.

One would be to make nearly $1 million in improvements, but some city residents question whether the required electrical, mechanical and structural work is worth the effort. Another is to construct an additional, supplementary facility for spillover events. The third option would be to tear down the existing auditorium and build two new ones in its place.

Harm Perdok of GMB Architects started the meeting by asking the committee to develop a description of what the Civic Center is currently used for and what each group needs. Then, all 19 members were asked to outline what they would like in the new center.

The groups that have a stake in the use and planning of the Civic Center are Hope College, the Holland Chamber of Commerce, the Holland Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Tulip Time, Holland Public and Holland Christian Schools, city officials, business leaders, Downtown Development Authority and local residents.

Glen Vos, superintendent of Holland Christian Schools, reminded everyone that a list of what they would like is called a “wish” list for a reason: “None of us is going to get our whole wish list.”

The committee also suggested GMB come up with a baseline cost estimate for renovating the existing building, just as a start, but also noted this may not be the answer.

With areas of confusion still existing between various parties at the meeting, Perdok suggested bringing in quick sketch drawings to the Jan. 16 meeting and letting committee members work from those drawings.

He also said he would meet with individual groups to further discuss space needs and recommendations. He also recognized the fact that everyone is ready to move on this project.

“While we are just coming on board, the committee members are ready for action,” he said.

The Civic Center often has been criticized for its lack of air conditioning, uncomfortable seating, faded appearance and shorter-than-regulation basketball courts. But, according to committee members, many in the area would like to see the building saved and renovated while keeping its historical presence in the community intact. 

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