For a community of just over 1,000 people to raise over a million dollars to create a modern community center may seem like a tall order, but Aurelia made it look easy.
The community rallied together at the new community center Saturday at its official opening. The new 7,700-square-foot structure sits on the same spot as the old community center which served the town for 80 years.
The community raised the money to erect the building in rapid order and the state of Iowa chipped in $245,000 through a Vision Iowa grant. The city and Aurelia Municipal Electric Utilities also added to the collection. An eye-appealing donor board is located at the entrance of the new $1.1 million community center bearing the names of those who donated $350 or more to the project. City leaders said they are proud of the people who took on the challenge of the project and those who gave with such confidence.
The new structure is state-of-the art, with flexibility as the key word. It's two-room design can be opened for one large event, or configured for smaller multiple uses. Lighting can be adapted, with unique lighting pods that can be dimmed or zeroed out individually or as as a whole.
The large room can be set up with the provided round tables and/or rectangle tables. The room can seat 330. The smaller room can easily seat 48. Doors can be closed to separate two functions or opened for a large function.
Half of the large room is fitted with carpet; the remainder can serve as a dance floor. Staging is also available for bands to use while performing.
The new facility utilizes a unique energy-efficient, and again, state-of-the art, heating and cooling system that is expected to cost only a fraction of the bill for the old structure.
A bar, set up for two bartenders to alleviate waiting, is set up in one corner.
The large kitchen is dual-equipped with stoves and grills, a unique dishwasher and a row of sinks.
A back room has been reserved, as promised from the beginning of the project, for the American Legion and Auxiliary. The groups had a home in the old facility on the second floor. There new spot will serve them much better, with no steps to climb. Cupboards will be built to hold the flags the men so proudly put out for Memorial Day and use during other legion-related events.
The congregate meals, which were moved to a local church from the old community center, were offered a spot at the new center; Wednesday night dancers also relocated and have been told they may now return as well.
Mayor Jeff Bowen addressed the crowd who came out to view the new, beautiful structure on Saturday.
"Without your support, this could not have been a reality," he said. "We thank you."
The first meeting to share ideas for possibly erecting a new building were in 2006. The community's input was important to the committee; listened they did.
The project proceeded along quickly. Demolition of the old building took place last July.
Two houses to the north of the new building were purchased and demolished and trees taken down to make room for a new parking lot. Volunteers from the community and city workers did the work, saving a great deal of money if professionals had been brought in. That's the type of people that live in the community - ready to help out and ready to accept progress.
The entire building, including the bar and furnished bartenders, can be rented for $250. The small room alone (with access to the kitchen) can be rented for $50 and the large room (with access to the kitchen) can be rented for $100. Throw the bar into the price of the large room for an additional $50. Additional costs will be charged for preparing meals in the kitchen.
Those planning an event may contact Pat Redig at 434-2140.
The new community center will be a grand asset to the community and will provide a spot for families and friends to gather to celebrate many happy occasions for many years to come.