South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Possible new Crestwood Community Center would require voter approval

New community center would bring in more revenue
Photo by Jessica Belle Kramer
Some of the classes held by the Crestwood Parks and Recreation Department at the Crestwood Community Center include children’s ballet classes. In a 2019 class, Sandy Book teaches cousins Caroline Kulik, left, and Audrey Flesch a relieve during the preschool ballet, tap and jazz class.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated where the construction site is for the new community center. The three proposed locations are the “sledding hill” and ballfield at Whitecliff Park or in the footprint of the existing facility.  

The future of the Crestwood Community Center and whether or not to construct a new one could be determined by voters in next year’s election.

City Administrator Kris Simpson and Director of Parks and Recreation Eilien Ramirez, gave a presentation to the city’s Board of Aldermen June 27 about the future of the community center.

In May, the board approved the Parks Master Plan, and one major aspect of that plan was taking a look at the aging community center.

The Crestwood Community Center was built in 1978, making it the oldest community center in the surrounding area. Because of its age, many aspects of the building are 20-30 years past their useful life. Some updates have been performed over the years, but for the most part the finishes

and layout of the building are outdated and not serving the community well.

Before going further with any plans, staff and consultants conducted town hall sessions with the public, along with a citizen survey, to gauge public opinion. Through this they found that a multi-facility gym, a weights and cardio fitness area and a walking track were the most popular desires of the public for the community center.

Based on these community needs, staff began evaluating their options: renovate and expand the existing community center or pursue new construction. Space and costs were compared in-depth and ultimately led staff to recommend new construction. 

Three areas for new construction specifically stood out: the “sledding hill” or ball field at Whitecliff Park, 9245 Whitecliff Park Lane, or the existing footprint of the current facility. After deliberation by the board, the ballfield location made the most sense as it is underutilized, not a major revenue source and requires a fair amount of maintenance.

If a new facility was built, the lowest cost option for the old one would be to demolish the building and turn the area into green space. Alternatively, Parks and Recreation staff developed the idea of partially demolishing the facility while keeping the newer portions of the building. In this case, the gymnasium, a small administrative support area, restrooms and the newly renovated locker rooms would remain, with the rest of the facility converted into a pickleball/family games and event center. In total, this project would cost an estimated $2 million.

Due to the projected construction cost of the new community center, the measure will have to go before Crestwood voters as a bond measure.

Right now it costs $824,500 per year to run the community center. The new facility would cost even more, sitting at $1,180,000 per year, though revenues are expected to drastically increase with a new community center, specifically from memberships and added programs.The current community center brings in $457,568 per year, putting it at a pretty high deficit. The revenue at the new facility would over double this at $980,911.This new facility would still operate at a deficit, but the overall cost recovery would be 84% which is in line with regional norms.

The board will decide by December 2023, or January 2024 at the latest, whether or not to place this issue on the April 2024 ballot. If voters approve, construction will optimistically begin in late 2024 or early 2025 and will wrap up in mid-2026.

Read more in the July 27  print edition of The St. Louis Call.