County takes strategic look at Central Wellness Center’s future

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: November 4, 2018 | 12:30 p.m. 

PRINCE GEORGE – One of the county’s more recent additions to its recreational assets is now slated to undergo a detailed study where the future uses for the building will be evaluated and studied to chart what the facility’s offerings will look like in the years to come.

This month, supervisors approved a $57,000 contract with Petersburg-based architectural firm Enteros Design, who is now tasked with studying the county’s Central Wellness Center along Prince George Drive in an effort to help guide the county as they plan for future improvements at the facility. 

Enteros Design was among seven proposals received by the county, which were evaluated by a panel of high-level county staff members, with the firm having significant experience with the borders of Prince George County, having designed both the Prince George Animal Shelter along U.S. Route 460 just outside of Disputanta and the Prince George County Library near Scott Park and the county government complex, along with a number of other projects across the region, such as the Colonial Heights Courthouse.

The task for Enteros was explained in simple terms by Deputy County Administrator Betsy Drewry during a presentation to the Prince George Board of Supervisors earlier in the month: to produce an adaptive reuse feasibility study for the Central Wellness Center that will aid in the county’s efforts to continue improvements at the facility.

In August, the Central Wellness Center served as the host of the Rural Broadband Summit, bringing nearly 200 stakeholders from across rural Virginia to discuss the challenges and possible solutions to their internet dilemmas. (Michael Campbell)

Since opening the center near U.S. Route 460, a number of investments have been made at the wellness center. Among them, lights were installed on the football field behind the center in late 2014, and two new heating and air conditioning units were installed in the center’s gymnasium in early 2016.

In addition to that equipment, split units were placed inside a majority of the center’s rooms for heating and cooling purposes. 

Along with the equipment-based upgrades, the services and programs housed inside the center have expanded in recent years. In the Spring of 2015, The Prince George Food Bank and Clothes Closet was provided space inside the center, allowing their programs to reach more people and providing more space to fully execute their efforts, with the Prince George Youth Wrestling Association joining them at the wellness center that same year.

2017 was a marquee year for the Central Wellness Center as both the center’s fitness room and computer lab opened.

Thanks to a nearly $47,000 grant from the John Randolph Foundation, the county was able to install a full-service fitness room at the Central Wellness Center, the second such county fitness room in the county. Across the hall, the computer lab features wi-fi access and a number of computer stations for residents to use to access the Internet. Thanks to grants from the Prince George Rotary, chairs and other equipment were purchased to help make the computer lab a reality.

County Information Technology Director Kirsten Cherry played a key role in ensuring the new computer lab at the Central Wellness Center had a smooth rollout and operation. (Michael Campbell) 

The center’s gymnasium has been improved as well, with lighting and bleacher upgrades, along with a new scoreboard. The gym, while used often for various sporting events and county recreation programs, has also been used for large gatherings in the county, such as the August 2018 Rural Broadband Summit hosted in Prince George, which saw nearly 200 local and state leaders, along with stakeholders in the push to bring internet to rural Virginia gather to discuss strategies and share ideas.

With interest in the Central Wellness Center grows within the community, so too does the need to conduct a full building review to see exactly what the needs of the center are, prioritize those needs, and determine a plan of action to address them.

As part of the upcoming study that is being conducted by Enteros, it will be their job to conduct a full building assessment of the center, which would look at existing documents from the building, along with a thorough review of the current facility many angles, including electrical, plumbing, mechanical, a host of others.

The company will also create high-level drawings of the building that document its current condition and report any observed deficiencies as part of their analysis.

Residents will be able to have a voice in the building’s future uses as, according to Drewry, an online component, most likely a survey, will be made available to allow for the community share what potential uses they would like to see the building host. 

After meeting with the county to discuss those future uses, there will be an evaluation of those uses and recommendations will be drafted, with a written summary of the building reuse evaluation being created.

In addition, Enteros will create up to three concept plans that demonstrate how those potential viable uses could be implemented, along with cost estimates for those layouts before a final report and eventually a public presentation of their findings is delivered to the community. 

With the funding approved, Drewry said the next steps will be finalizing the contract with Enteros and determining a schedule and timeline for study finalization. 

Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing
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