Wheeling recreation center renovation wraps up under budget

After more than two years of work, the multimillion-dollar expansion and renovation of the Wheeling Park District's Community Recreation Center has been completed - and it's come in under budget, officials said.

"We are all very excited to have completed such an amazing recreation facility for our community," said Jan Buchs, the park district's executive director. "The Community Recreation Center definitely offers something for everyone in a healthy and safe environment."

The project expanded the two-story center at 100 Community Blvd. from 77,000 square feet to 119,000 square feet.

It was expected to cost $18.8 million. But the final figure came in at less than $18.5 million, Deputy Director Matt Wehby said.

"The $18.8 (million) was the maximum budget," Wehby said. "The goal was always to limit expenses the best we could, and based on value engineering throughout the project, we were able to reduce the cost."

Most of the money for the project came from the district's capital reserve fund.

Wheeling officials contributed $1.8 million from a special property tax fund, and the Rolling Meadows-based Northwest Special Recreation Association contributed $250,000.

Construction finished in December. The park district board last week formally approved the final contracted amount with Zion-based Camosy Construction for the actual construction.

Board President Sue Stein praised the district staff for bringing the project to fruition while staying within the budget.

"I feel an enormous sense of pride that we were able to provide a beautiful facility and amenity for our community," Stein said.

Construction occurred in two phases.

The first began in May 2018 and resulted in a new health and fitness center, a second gymnasium, staff offices and other amenities.

That work wrapped up in summer 2019, and the second phase began that July.

As part of the second phase, a preschool in the facility was renovated. Occupying more than 3,600 square feet on the center's first floor, it contains three classrooms, an office for teachers, a kitchen and lobby space.

In one area, a wall containing storage cubbies is decorated with important words for young minds, including "letters" and "adventure" and "active" and "explore."

Also new is an outdoor playground for the preschool that's loaded with colorful climbing and play equipment.

Space for the Northwest Special Recreation Association's Pursuit program was created, too. The program provides activities for adults with disabilities.

Elsewhere in the building, locker rooms were renovated and new common areas were established.

The COVID-19 crisis slowed construction at times, Wehby said. But because the facility was closed for several months last year as a result of the pandemic, some work could be completed without disrupting guest programs and activities, he said.

Activities and capacity are limited right now because of the pandemic. Common areas inside the center are closed to patrons to ensure social distancing.

"It will be so good when COVID is not a factor and people can use the building as it is meant to be used," board member Cheri Klumpp said.

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A preschool was renovated as part of a newly completed construction project at the Wheeling Park District's Community Recreation Center. Courtesy of Wheeling Park District
A preschool playground was built as part of the recent renovation of the Wheeling Park District's Community Recreation Center. Courtesy of Wheeling Park District
As part of the recent renovation of the Wheeling Park District's Community Recreation Center, space for the Northwest Special Recreation Association was added to the building. Courtesy of Wheeling Park District
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