Future of Chase County Community Center to be determined in upcoming meeting

The future of the Chase County Community Center will be decided in a meeting in February, after two meetings with community members this month failed to determine who would claim ownership of the development.

Earlier this week, a public meeting was held to determine how the old gymnasium and limestone elementary school building in Cottonwood Falls would be used in the future. The building was purchased recently by Homestead Affordable Housing, Inc. out of Holton. CEO Tom Bishop says the process began after a Kansas Sampler Foundation brainstorming session, when his company was contacted about purchasing the property and developing it into affordable senior housing, while preserving the historic building.

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Homestead acquired the block last fall, and received a $100,000 grant to build 10 new single-family homes, intended for commuter families. The process of developing that neighborhood is ongoing. They've also been working on designing a floor-plan inside the school building, turning it into 16 senior apartments. This year's grant proposal would include funding for that project. A daycare facility and preschool services are also in the works.

Bishop outlines the latest challenge:

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The housing component submissions are due by Feb. 7. That means the community has to decide how to proceed before that time. Bishop said he intends to show the community's interest in developing the building in the grant proposal, but if they choose not to, other options will be pursued.

Cottonwood Falls Mayor Boyce Baumgardner says the meetings have been well-attended, and there's an abundant list of possible uses for the property. He says the next step is to get county commissioners involved.

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Baumgardner says it's something that needs to be decided fairly quickly.

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Baumgarnder said he thought it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for Homestead to take charge, but if the community and county were to get involved, more localized programs and services would be offered.

Bishop says there's lots of options on the table, and somebody will benefit.

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The next meeting date and time is currently undetermined.


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