After first being proposed more than a decade ago, Pinehurst is finally building a community center.
A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Friday for the $4.9 million center, which will be built in Cannon Park on Rattlesnake Trail near N.C. 211.
The 19,693-square-foot center will include a full size gymnasium with court lines for basketball, volleyball and pickleball, a multi-purpose room, arts/crafts room, programs room, wellness/dance room, offices for the parks and recreation staff, restrooms, storage and a small catering kitchen.
Construction is expected to take 10 to 12 months. The village is on a tight deadline to complete the center in time for basketball season next year since the gym at Pinehurst Elementary, along with the rest of the school, will be torn down and replaced with a new campus. The village uses the gym for its basketball leagues.
A temporary campus for the school will be located in Rassie Wicker Park and will operate for two years.
The council voted to award a $4.24 million construction contract for the center in November. The cost was well above what had been projected. After agreeing to $52,635 in cost reductions, the council voted separately to take $335,000 from savings to cover a shortfall from what was budgeted for the total project costs.
Council member Judy Davis cast the lone dissenting vote to dip that far into the village’s reserves. She argued that the village has other pressing needs, such as improving stormwater management systems, road resurfacing and possibly a new library “on the horizon.”
Mayor Nancy Fiorillo argued that there was “no magical way” to significantly reduce the costs without essentially going back to the drawing, which would have required rebidding the project.
Village officials said that was not an option given the tight timeline to have it completed before the school gym is torn down.
In an effort to appease some residents who may be concerned with covering such a large overrun with its savings, council member Kevin Drum proposed that the council direct village staff to identify ways to “replenish” the reserve fund by $200,000 in the next fiscal year.
Drum said this would allow the council to proceed with funding the community center “in a responsible way and not short-change the building.” He said he did not expect the bids to come in right on budget but he also didn’t expect it to be more than $300,000 off.
In addition to the construction contract with Greensboro-based HM Kern, other costs include $163,000 for furnishing and equipping the center and $165,000 for contingencies, which brings the total to $4.5 million. The village has already spent $344,000 to hire an architect to design it, for a total project cost of $4.9 million.
The village had socked away about $4.4 million from budget surpluses over the years in its reserves to pay for building the center without borrowing money.
The project was first proposed in 2006 and was called a recreation center at the time. A previous council later began calling it a community center to better reflect that it would include a variety of parks and recreation programs for children and adults.
But the center kept getting pushed aside for other needs in the village's five-year capital plan.
A study done in 2016 concluded that a community center was needed to meet the current and future demand for parks and recreation programs. As an interim measure, the village has been leasing space in a commercial building off Rattlesnake Trail, dubbed the Rec Room, for several years.
Council members pointed to the annual resident surveys showing a high level of dissatisfaction with indoor recreation space as justification for building a facility, as well as the lack of dedicated space for its programs.