EARLY — The City of Early has expressed optimism regarding design proposals for the Early Community Center after an architectural firm’s lengthy presentation earlier this week provided concept visuals of modernizing the dated building.
At Tuesday evening’s council meeting, representatives from Schwarz-Hanson Architects gave about an hour-long PowerPoint presentation to city officials showing slides of the building’s new look and would-be amenities in the form of computer-aided design.
The building (419 Garmon Dr.), generally used for events such as birthday parties, baby showers and school activities, would be given a significant facelift by adding, among others, a courtyard equipped with benches for seating and an improved outside pavilion for entertainment purposes, to augment a sufficient-sized lawn and game area, according to the firm’s concept designs obtained by the Bulletin.
Though council members couldn’t take action on this agenda item — it was more so just to give them an idea of the possible changes — City Administrator Tony Aaron said both he and the city were optimistic, as they’re “trying to find the right thing to have the greatest impact on the community.”
For now, the city’s next step would be to present this project as an action item at a future council meeting in order to officially move forward and discuss funding options. To pay for this about $1.2 million makeover, Aaron said, in order to offset costs, the city would seek grants and see what it can perform itself with its own labor force, before looking to finance money and issuing bonds to complete it.
More on the building’s look, Aaron said they would likely keep its white brick but remove the roof in order to add a rainwater-harvesting roof with elevation and ultimately bring higher ceilings. This way, “we can keep some of the old nostalgia that people have grown up around, and still see parts of the old building mixed with the new,” Aaron said. “This is big news for the city of Early. They have nothing like this.”
The front of the building would have a ground-to-roof display of a herd of longhorns, a nod to the mascot of Early Independent School District. The building’s back would feature a covered sidewalk and patio area for patrons and a nearby large whitewall to project movies. Aaron suggested adding a welcome sign on the far end of the property where drivers on U.S. Highway 183 can view upon entering the city.
“We don’t know what it’ll end up as, but [hopefully] something similar,” Aaron said. Aaron added that the new design would be applicable for more elegant events such as weddings and art shows.
The about-half-century old community center — an about 3,000-square-foot, L-shaped building, which would likely increase by another 1,500 or so once completed, according to Aaron — belonged to the Lions Mother Club before it was donated to the city last year.