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Wadena community center: a new possibility

The Wadena community center organization may be moving forward with a change of plans.

John Paulson, chairman of the community center board, said the group is looking to go ahead with a precast concrete building designed in 2008, and meanwhile try to get a temporary roof over the old community center's ice rink as soon as possible for the upcoming hockey season.

The 2008 building in question was originally intended to be a fitness center for Otsego. It was designed and manufactured, but never erected because the company went bankrupt. The precast concrete is still sitting with the manufacturer. It was originally designed with a pool, fitness area and gymnasium in mind.

"It hasn't been erected yet, but the actual precast concrete has all been manufactured, ready to be set up on somebody's site. And we'll be getting it about 25-30 cents on the dollar. And that's for the structure, the box - it's basically that we have to finish the inside how we want it," Paulson said.

The building was not designed with an ice arena in mind, but Paulson said the community center is hoping to add one.

"We are just working on seeing if we can get that building programmed to make it work for us or not," Paulson said. "We have agreed to put a down payment on it to tie it up, with options to get out of the deal if it's not going to fit our needs." He added that if it's not going to work, they will get their money back.

The community center organization was scheduled to meet with an architect on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Paulson said the architect worked on the designs for the Walker community center, the ice arena in Hibbing and the ice arena in Buffalo, which they are looking to copy for Wadena.

He said that Perkins + Will and Kraus Anderson are not involved, because they have to use the architect that designed the precast building and they are using a builder they have worked with in the past.

Perkins + Will and Kraus Anderson are the architect and construction firm, respectively, that were hired for the proposed Wadena wellness center.

He said that construction should start in May or June.

Paulson said it was a decision by the community center organization, but they hope to work with other entities like the city, school and hospital.

"We are getting a very good price on the building, and we just found out about it a couple months ago," he said.

Paulson said the precast fitness center would be located directly north of the new high school, where they had been planning to build the wellness center.

"We've talked to Leaf River Ag about trying to purchase that property from them," Paulson said.

As for hockey, Paulson said they are looking at options to put up a temporary steel building over the ice arena as soon as possible. He said there are some good deals to choose from and they are trying to find an affordable option.

Wadena's original community center and pool were destroyed in the June 17, 2010 tornado.