Now & Then Volume 1, 2023 | Page 12

Photo : The graduating class of 1919 , one of the first from the former Pella High School .
Friends of the Pella Community Center
Friends of the Pella Community Center , a local nonprofit organization formed in 2018 , have a mission to preserve the building as a historic landmark while ensuring its continued usefulness as a community resource . Their motto , “ A treasure from our past , a resource for our future ” is a heart-felt reflection of that mission .
So far , the Friends of the Pella Community Center , or FPCC , have successfully placed the building on the National Register of Historic Places and hired an architect who is experienced in working on historic buildings .
“ It is not a derelict building like some originally thought . In fact , it is in great shape [ structurally ],” Pati Van Zante says .
To further achieve their mission , the organization has partnered with the City of Pella .
In April 2022 , Mayor Don DeWaard announced a $ 45 million long-term facilities plan to invest in recreation and fine arts in the community , which includes a pledge of $ 5.5 million for renovations to the Pella Community Center . An ad-hoc committee was then formed to conduct a facility use study .
Pati Van Zante , president of the Friends of the Pella Community Center , or FPCC , says it ’ s taken two mayors and three city councils
to finally find support from the city to renovate the building . The city has owned the building since 1978 , when it first transitioned from Pella High School to the Pella Community Center with the help of the late Stu Kuyper and Joan Kuyper Farver , children of Pella Corporation founder Pete Kuyper .
The siblings oversaw more than $ 850,000 in donations from the Pella Rolscreen Foundation to update and transform the former high school into a much-needed , multi-functional community center . The Pella Rolscreen Foundation is an organization that “ contributes to the civic , cultural , educational , social and physical environment in which Pella Corporation team members reside through gifts
to active , nonprofit , charitable organizations whose purpose coincides with this goal .”
While the building ’ s structure is solid overall , there are many issues that need to be addressed for it to continue to fulfill its purpose to the community . An architectural study helped FPCC identify these issues , which include an inefficient floor plan and meeting spaces ; outdated and limited technology ; obsolete recreation facilities ; and a failure to meet ADA and safety standards .
The Heritage Gym , which was heavily used for community athletic programs , has been closed to the public because of loose ceiling tiles — a safety hazard to the public . The gym
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