The city-led renovation of the Princeton civic center with the help of volunteers and donations is showing progress.
The impetus to redo the center, originally the home of the Tri-County Conservation Club, began at least five years ago. It was in 2005, when City Administrator Mark Karnowski suggested that the city either renovate the structure or demolish it.
Deterioration had set into the building from the roof on down to some of the half-lap timber siding, the windows, doors and interior.
For a number of years, the building served as the Princeton senior dining center where senior citizens eat a low-cost, nutritious noon meal five days per week and have social interaction. It was rented for private and group use and was sometimes even used for a city government meeting. For a time, it was where the Civic Betterment Club’s Santaville took place.
A lot has happened to the building through the renovation project this past year. Volunteers put on a metal roof, and local carpenter Brad Tadych and his Wood Appeal crew worked on replacing parts of the siding and most of the windows and doors.
Since the season’s cold weather set in, the renovation work has focused on the interior, where the low, flat ceiling has been removed to reveal the rafters and pieces of insulation.
City consulting engineering firm, WSB & Associates, is donating the design and engineering for installing different rafters to make a vaulted ceiling.
WSB engineer Mike Nielson said on Monday that a couple rafter designs are being completed to make a vaulted ceiling. One design would only create a vault to raise the ceiling two feet in the center, while the other design would make a vault in which the peak would be 12’ to 13’ up from the floor.
Coming up with a design to transform the flat ceiling to a vaulted type “is a little bit difficult and we’re working on a design to see if it will be cost effective,” Nielson said.
A committee of volunteers, with a mix of city employees and residents, has been meeting regularly to make decisions about the project such as choice and style of materials. The members include Mayor Paul Whitcomb, council member Thom Walker, Community Development Director Carie Fuhrman, city clerk Shawna Jenkins, former city clerk Katie Hunter and residents Nadean Johnson, Bob Hasinfelt and Doug and Deb Farmer.
City Public Works Director Bob Gerold has been coordinating the construction work and last week explained the need for coordination. Before the ceiling can be completed, for example, electrical, heating and air conditioning work will have to be done, he said.
Gerold says that carpenter Tadych will be donating his carpentry time to build the vaulted ceiling.
City clerk Jenkins is planning an open house with possible barbecue, this coming spring, to give the public a peek at the civic center renovation progress.
There is still quite a bit of work remaining, said Gerold, who is looking at the project being completed next fall.
There is still a door to replace on the northwest part of the building, more siding work, and some chimney renovation to do, besides all the remaining interior work, Gerold noted.
The city put $25,000 into the civic center renovation fund last summer, received a grant from the Bremer Foundation and has accepted many donations from residents to help cover the costs.