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For the past year, Wendi O'Neal, Brimfield Township's assistant zoning inspector and parks coordinator, has applied for grants, raised funds and planned for the development of Brimfield Community Center. This week, her vision is turning into reality.
"I live in Brimfield," O'Neal said. "That's why I'm pushing for these things because I live here and we're part of the community. My little girl goes to Suffield. My heart is here in the community."
Neal along with township trustees Mike Kostensky and Sue Fields and fiscal officer John Dalziel have raised almost $60,000, including a $32,000 NatureWorks grant, to renovate the 1970's house and secluded 17 acre property on Edson Road, which the Farmakidis family donated to the township in 2008, into Brimfield Community Center, a place where residents of all ages can enjoy nature, walk trails, take art classes or have a wedding.
This week, the first phase of construction will begin with a 20 space parking lot and roundabout driveway where an overgrown field is. Luli Construction will surface the parking lot and Brimfield Aggregate will supply the base materials at their cost.
"We need donations," Kostensky said. "We're going to be looking for craftsmen, carpenters, electricians, anyone that can help us with a donation of time because we have the money. We have the material paid for we just need trades to help."
The main projects that need to be done in the house are the handicap restrooms inside the garage, the deck renovation and the new entrance with a ramp. Other than that, the two story house with a basement, den, kitchen was deemed commercially sound by a local architect. The township will organize a "community demo day" to help with the projects as soon as the parking lot is finished," O'Neal said.
"We're going to just try to call out to everyone to come, show up and help because that's the only way this project is going to get off the ground."
The original plan for a senior center changed into a community center to attract the young families that live in Brimfield.
"We're pushing 11,000 residents, so the need is high," said O'Neal, who has lived in Brimfield with her family for ten years. "We have so much growth in residential single family housing. Majority of those are young families, so we're trying to reach out to them because that's what's growing Brimfield."
The Community Center will offer various programs in art and martial arts as well as story time for children.
"There's a few that want to do library time because we lost our public library," O'Neal said. "There's art teachers and a martial arts instructor who is ready. Basically we offer the building and let people come."
There will be a screened in enclosure overlooking a butterfly garden for bird watching and a half-mile paved trail with workout stations, which will connect the Community Center to Lions Community Park that is adjacent to the property. The two properties together make up more than 30 acres of green space.
"We have a nursing care facility and they could have a place to go to get them out of the room or just sit in the shade," O'Neal said. "The whole goal is to get everybody out in our parks. This will be the only one in the township that will have heat in the winter so you can go out and ski the trails in the winter time and have a place to come back and get warm."
The center will be homebase for the Lions Club, the Brimfield Chamber of Commerce and the Brimfield Young at Heart senior club. Residents can also rent the Center for small weddings.
"That's one of the big drives in the deck renovation because people use the town gazebo for weddings, but they don't have anywhere to eat," O"Neal said. "The scenery back here is gorgeous. It really has that lodge feeling. There will be a gazebo with the backdrop of the trees."
The biggest expenses will be the sewer system and gas line. O'Neal has already applied for a NatureWorks grant to fund an HVAC system.
The plan is to work on the project over the summer and apply for grants to fund the walking trail and playground equipment, O'Neal said. The goal is to have the Community Center open by next summer.