Veterans Building

BG seeks old photos to give final salute to Veterans Building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board took a farewell tour of the Veterans Building in City Park Tuesday evening. Members pointed out items that won’t be missed when the building is torn down later this year – the carpeted walls, lack of ADA restrooms, buckling floors, water damage, inadequate electric, lack of air conditioning and crumbling block walls. There is no storage space, so tables and chairs are stacked in the open. There are holes that let varmints inside – including a skunk that visited during a recent rental. The demolition of the Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building and the Depot Building are all scheduled for mid-August. Then construction will begin on a new City Park building, which will have adequate space for programming, storage, air conditioning, ADA accessibility, and an attractive design that reflects the historic nature of City Park. On Tuesday evening, Parks and Recreation Director Kristin Otley reported to the board that requests for qualifications for the new building are due this week. “That will be very exciting,” she said. Though the aging Veterans Building has outlived its usefulness, Otley said the city still wants to pay homage to the role it played in the community – as a place where families celebrated birthdays, organizations held chili-cook-offs, and residents tried to jazzercise off some pounds. So Otley is asking that as local residents do their spring cleaning, if they come upon photographs of those special moments at the Veterans Building, that they share those photos with the Parks and Recreation Department. “So many life moments happened in this building,” Otley said. And she is hoping some of the old photos can be displayed in the new building. Otley asked that a couple park board members volunteer to look over the architectural plans for the new building as the project nears. “You are representatives of the community and have different takes on things,” she said. Once the buildings are torn down in mid-August, the plan is for the new building to get framed in before winter. “They’ll be able to work through the nasty weather,” Otley said. If all goes according to plans, the building will be completed by the spring of 2019. “I think it’s doable,” Otley said. In other business, the park board: Re-elected Jeff Crawford as president. Learned the annual membership breakfast will be May 19, at 9 a.m., in the Rotary Nature Center in Wintergarden Park. Approved Jodi Anderson as a new member of the park foundation board of trustees. Heard that the newly renovated nature center is open again for rentals. Learned from naturalist Chris Gajewicz that the second annual seed exchange was well attended. “Garden people get pretty excited this time of the year,” he said. Heard from Gajewicz that recent programs on Bigfoot and birding were hits. Got a report from Ivan Kovacevic, recreation coordinator, about new programming including an “escape” event, and about the success of a recent Day Off School program. The annual Adult Egg Scramble is set for April 6, and the Super Hero obstacle course event is partnering with Wood County foster care program on April 21. Learned the parks and recreation summer brochure should be available electronically by the end of the week.


New City Park building to help celebrate ‘life moments’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The aging Veterans Building in City Park has seen its share of “community life moments.” The building has hosted generations of birthday parties, baby showers, wedding receptions and family reunions. It has witnessed square dancing lessons, euchre game nights, and pint size proms. But its days are numbered, with its crumbling block walls, leaks, lack of air conditioning, and lack of ADA accessibility. There is no storage space, so tables and chairs are stacked in the open. There are holes that let varmints inside – including a skunk that visited during a recent rental. In order to continue offering a place for “community life moments,” the city is preparing for the sale of $3.75 million in bonds that will pay for tearing down three old buildings and constructing one new facility in City Park. On the demolition list in addition to the Veterans Building, are two much smaller structures – the Girl Scout Building and the Depot Building – all near the entrance to City Park. On Tuesday evening, the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Board got another look at the initial plans for the new building, which will have adequate space for programming, storage, air conditioning, ADA accessibility, and an attractive design that reflects the historic nature of City Park. Park and Recreation Director Kristin Otley stressed that the park levy passed by Bowling Green voters last year included money to pay off the bonds for this building project. “We are not asking people for additional money for this project,” she said. The construction has a “fairly tight timeline” to minimize interruption with park programming, Otley explained. The architecture and engineering firms should be hired by February, with bids being awarded in July. Construction should begin in mid-August next year, so the project will be completed by mid-spring in 2019. The replacement of three smaller buildings totaling 8,000 square feet, with one totaling 12,000 square feet will allow for improved traffic flow at the park entrance, and for a larger parking area with 100 spots. The additional parking will be useful not only for those using the new building, but also for those using the pool or ballfield, Otley said. It’s not unusual for all the parking spots in City Park to be used during events. The new building will also be as energy efficient as the city can afford. “We’re parks and rec. We value our environment,” Otley said. Even in its poor condition, the Veterans Building is in demand. In 2016, the facility was reserved for 272 events including park programs and rentals. Rentals brought in $8,000 that year. The Scout Building, which is used for voting plus smaller events like baby showers, was used 115 times in 2016, bringing in $4,000 in rental fees. Both buildings are the site of “lots of important family and community moments,” Otley said. Board member Cale Hover agreed. “City Park is very important to this community,” he said. The new building – which has no name yet – will have three separate reservable spaces with kitchens, so multiple events can be held at the same time. The largest space will be able to handle 250 people. Otley said the park and rec office gets about three requests a month for rental of…