The Galesburg City Council is scheduled to vote on choosing the former Churchill Junior High as the location of the proposed community center at today’s City Council meeting, Dec. 5, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 55 W. Tompkins St.

The former Churchill Junior High School in Galesburg is being considered for a new community center.

The development of a community center has been discussed by the city council for a period of time. In June 2013, the City Council voted in favor of selling the Community Center, then located at 150 E. Simmons Street, for the creation of Iron Spike restaurant, according to a Monday release from the city.

An agreement was entered into in 2015 for community center services to be provided by the Boys and Girls Club at the Carver Center; however, a fire in 2016 destroyed the Carver Center. At the Nov. 2, 2021, City Council work session, a memo was provided and discussed by the City Council regarding estimated operating expenses and possible uses of the former Churchill building (905 Maple Ave.) as a potential community center.

At the Nov. 15, 2021, City Council meeting, the City Council voted in favor of hiring Farnsworth Group to provide a code study of the former Churchill Junior High building and determine estimates of costs for bringing the building into compliance with all building codes.

On Nov. 29, 2021, the Galesburg City Council toured the Churchill building to get a general sense of its layout, space, and condition.

At the March 21, 2022, City Council meeting, the City Council voted in favor (four yes and three no) of directing city administration to acquire the Churchill property. Subsequently, the ordinance to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Galesburg Community School District 205 to acquire Churchill Junior High at no cost, was presented to City Council at the April 18, 2022, City Council meeting for first reading.

The April 18th council agenda also provided a resolution for consideration, which would place the advisory question “Should the City of Galesburg spend between $5 million and $10 million to convert the former Churchill Middle School into a community/activity center?” on the ballot of the next election in Galesburg. However, this resolution did not pass (three yes, four no).

On April 28, 2022, Council members White and Smith-Esters held an open house at Churchill for the public to walk through the building and provide comments. Members of the Youth Commission participated and helped give tours, with approximately 45 citizens attending the event.

On May 2, 2022, the City Council voted in favor of the intergovernmental agreement with Galesburg Community School District 205 to acquire Churchill Junior High at no cost. Since that time, the City Council approved an agreement with Farnsworth Group for evaluation of alternative locations and options for the Community Center. The results of that evaluation were provided to City Council at the Sept. 26, 2022, City Council work session and can be found on the city’s website.

In June 2022, the City Council also toured the Rock Island Fitness and Activity Center and Rock Island Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center to learn more about community centers in other communities. The City Council also considered a resolution at the Nov. 21, 2022 meeting to hold a Community Center Public Hearing to gather public input on the location for the proposed community center; however, that resolution did not pass.

The City Council agenda for Monday, Dec. 5th includes an item for voting on the former Churchill Junior High as the location for the proposed community center, and the agenda and supporting information can be viewed on the city’s website.

After the cost updates, the current estimated totals for community center options are as follows:

  • Gunther New Construction — $9,755,775
  • 820 E. Fifth New Construction — $9,386,875
  • Churchill Renovation — $7,352,500
  • Hawthorne New Construction — $6,755,750
  • Library Renovation — $5,627,350

At this time, staff seeks direction from the City Council regarding their support for selecting the
former Churchill Junior High as the location for the proposed community center, according to the council agenda.

If this item is approved, staff will work with Farnsworth Group to develop an agreement for services to finalize the proposed spaces to be developed, provide final design concepts, and prepare bid documents for the project, which will be brought to City Council at a future meeting for approval.