The aging Casey Community Center in Gaithersburg could receive a much-needed facelift if a funding request is fulfilled by the state.
Hoping to secure $130,000 in aid, the city of Gaithersburg submitted a state bond bill for the design, construction and renovation of the city-owned facility at 810 S. Frederick Ave.
At a March 8 hearing before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and House Appropriations Committee, Katie Gleeson, the center’s executive director, gave testimony on the history of the building and how various renovation projects would help the center better serve the community.
One of the major projects is the renovation of the kitchen so that it can be brought into compliance with current code and safety standards, and become a productive space for community programming.
“Additionally, a functional kitchen will allow staff to provide nutritional cooking classes for youths and families in support of Let’s Move!, the national initiative to combat child obesity,” Gleeson testified.
To address previous complaints from renters, money would be spent on converting the floor in the primary rental room to a dance-ready floor, improving the sound insulation between the first and second floors, and installing a separate heating and cooling system unit on the second floor, according to Gleeson’s testimony.
A former apartment unit would also be converted to a conference room, Gleeson said, to provide space for staff meetings, parent meetings for the preschool program, and rental transactions.
“The proposed improvements and alterations will lend to compliance, expand programming capacity, increase the site’s rental appeal, and provide a more professional environment for patrons and visitors,” Gleeson testified.
Sen. Jennie M. Forehand (D-Dist. 17) of Rockville, one of the bill’s sponsors, said she thought the center is deserving of state assistance.
“It is such a popular place and so conveniently located,” she said. “I really put that in because I felt like when I heard they needed some renovations, I thought it would be a great place to have them.”
Built in 1938, the Casey Barn was acquired by the city of Gaithersburg in 1971 from Eugene B. Casey, a Maryland philanthropist and federal government policy adviser. Six years later, the barn was converted into the Casey Community Center. Today, the center acts as a city hub for nearly 215 recreational classes each year and accommodates 1,825 hours of instruction annually, according to Gleeson’s testimony. The facility serves 90,000 people annually.
The cost for acquisition, design, construction and equipment for all of the projects is estimated to be just over $260,000, according to bond bill documents. The city of Gaithersburg’s Capital Improvements Program is expected to fund half of the total cost.
Should the center receive full funding from the state and city, the design phase would begin July 2014 and construction would start July 2015, lasting about 15 months, documents show.
Members of both committees will make a decision on whether to recommend funding for the project during the next few weeks as they finalize the capital budget.