THPRD bond measure funding boosts renovation projects at Conestoga and Elsie Stuhr centers
by: Jaime Valdez Seniors exercising in a workout room  at the Elsie Stuhr Center can keep tabs on construction workers’ progress as they work on the much-anticipated expansion of the popular center at 5550 S.W. Hall Blvd.

With more than 100 projects made possible by a 2008 bond measure under way, the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District is clearly making good on promises to voters who asked for improvements to area recreation options.

Two of the higher-profile projects fueled by the $100 million bond include expansion and remodeling of the Conestoga Recreation and Aquatic Center and the Elsie Stuhr Center.

Both facilities' projects are set for completion in spring 2012.

At Conestoga, 9985 S.W. 125th Ave., which remains open during construction, crews with Skyward Construction Inc. are busy adding on a new fitness and classroom area, increasing men's and women's dressing room space and building the district's first-ever outdoor splash pad.

'It's a water playground,'' said bond Project Manager Peter Foster, of the splash pad. 'There are nozzles in the ground that spray water up, plus standing toys, with water squirting everywhere, and a waterfall. Kids are going to love it.''

With foundations and concrete poured and steel structures on their way, other Conestoga improvements include the following:

  • A new outdoor restroom;

  • New classrooms and fitness center;

  • A reconfigured west lawn and new landscaping;

  • New parking; and

  • Increasing capacity in the storm-water runoff pond.
  • Work on the $3.6 million project, which includes more than 20,000 square feet of new and renovated space, is designed to carry on without interfering with the facility's ongoing use, Foster said.

    'It's a major undertaking. There are so many patrons using the building, to shut it down for a year (would be) not very good,' he said. 'They're working around the perimeter of the building without interrupting functions. We'll have some scheduled (utility-related) shutdowns. Other than that, it should remain pretty much operational.'

    He praised Ridgefield, Wash.-based Skyward for a level of efficiency and cooperation that's not always the rule in low-bid public contracts.

    'Skyward has been a great contractor. It's been on schedule and under budget at this point and moving rather smoothly. It makes us wonder what's wrong,' Foster said with a chuckle.

    Seniors work around disruptions

    Progress is also evident across town at the Elsie Stuhr Center, 5550 S.W. Hall Blvd., where workers are toiling on expansion and remodeling work under a brand-new copper roof completed this summer.

    The three-phased project necessitated a seven-week shutdown of the facility from Aug. 1 to Sept. 19. From now until spring, however, adults ages 55 and older will be able to use the facility while construction goes on around them.

    'It was different for them,' Center Director Linda Jo Enger said of the regular patrons. 'We had the (Beaverton) community center, and the city was very generous. But they really wanted to get back. To be honest, the staff missed them, too.'

    Other changes to the 1976-vintage, one-story building include the following:

  • A remodeled 2,436-square-foot fitness area, an increase of 1,370 square feet, created from current library and classroom space;

  • Remodeling the current fitness center into two classrooms/multiuse spaces;

  • A new, 728 square-foot lobby with entry vestibule;

  • Remodeled main restrooms to meet Americans with Disability requirements;

  • New classroom space;

  • Conversion of the old gift shop into a multiuse room; and

  • 10 new parking spaces, including two ADA-accessible slots near the new main entrance.
  • Foster said he was impressed with the flexibility the Stuhr Center's regular patrons have demonstrated through all the hubbub of renovations. Complaints have been few and far between.

    'They're excited about it. They're showing up with (tool) belts on saying, 'Where can I help?'' he said.

    One unplanned aspect of the renovation was installing a sprinkler system, necessitated by fire codes for an addition of 2,000 square feet or more.

    'We had to sprinkle the entire building because of the addition,' Foster said. 'It makes the whole building safer, especially for seniors.'

    While the contracting work comes from bond measure funding, Stuhr Center patrons played a significant role in raising money to equip the new fitness center.

    Through a campaign and events such as a fall Harvest Bazaar, seniors managed to add $60,000 toward the center foundation's $175,000 account.

    'These people can do amazing things,' said Enger, who is attending a national conference in Atlanta for senior recreation professionals.

    After hearing stories about governmental budget slashing across the country, Enger said she's even more appreciative of the 2008 bond measure.

    'I've heard from recreational professionals from all over the U.S. about the horrible things happening to (state) governments right now,' she said. 'I'm so grateful for our voters back in our area. This is a blessing for us.'

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