Merriam council agrees to eliminate consideration of ‘band-aid’ fixes to Irene B. French center, will focus instead on more intensive project options


The Merriam City Council earlier this week passed a resolution removing what city staff had dubbed the “band-aid” approach for the future of the city’s community center space.

Concurring with the recommendation of city staff, the council voted unanimously to take the possibility of investing $4 to $6 million to address critical maintenance issues at the existing Irene B. French Community Center off the table.

“Over the past year, as city staff worked with the public to determine an appropriate path forward, it has become very clear that our existing facilities do not meet the community’s current needs,” read a memorandum from city staff in the council packet ahead of Monday’s meeting. “Pursuing an option that only addresses the bare minimum issues, for an estimated combined cost of $4 – $6 million, is not forward-thinking, and does not move the needle toward meeting the community’s needs. By simply addressing our failing systems, the city would not resolve the deficiencies in our ability to offer meaningful programs or the inefficiencies of operating a community center in a 100-year-old school.”

The council’s vote Monday means the city will be considering two possibilities for the future of the Merriam’s community center facilities: investing between $12 and $16 million on a project that would demolish part of the current community center building and replace the demolished parts with more modern facilities; or investing between $24 and $30 million on a new combined community center and aquatics facility on the site of the current pool structure.

City Administrator Chris Engel’s full memo on the matter is embedded below: