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County community centers are rapidly taking shape


by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

At its simplest, every building – from the Empire State Building to a small addition on a house–goes through three main phases: planning, building and operations.

Everyone who has ever built a home can sympathize. You plan by saving money, choosing a lot and the architect. You argue over where the portico is going to go, haggle over closing costs, pray for favorable mortgage rates. You’re there the moment they break ground, and when the foundation is first dug out you’re excited, but it’s just a big hole in the ground. Then the walls go up, and out comes your camera. That’s when the excitement starts.

For Platte County’s Brian Nowotny, J.E. Dunn Construction’s George Hazel and the YMCA’s Mark Hulet, that time is now.

Two community centers, one in Parkville and the other in Platte City (pictures and architects renderings are shown of the Platte City center), are rapidly taking shape. They promise to offer recreation offerings that heretofore haven’t been available in Platte County. Combined, the centers will offer more than 81,000 square feet of swimming pools, gymnasiums, walking tracks, aerobic areas, playgrounds and gathering space.

“I’m excited and the commission’s excited to see those wall’s going up,” Nowotny enthuses. “Having construction workers on site is a good thing, and the project is still on schedule. You spend so much time getting out of the ground…you buy the ground, get the right grading, put the utilities in…things you can’t see. Now, you can see the progress. In 90 days, we’ve literally seen the building rise up.”

Hazel, a veteran of many construction projects for J.E. Dunn, Platte County’s project lead, says the project is progressing as expected.

“It’s going well…that’s not to say we don’t have our issues…but we’re pleased with our progress,” Hazel said. “We’re on schedule, which is where we want to be. In general, there’s been a very high level of cooperation from contractors on the job. There’s been a scheduling quality that helps us complete our goals.”
Hazel said that the building was about to enter into another construction phase.
“When you throw up walls and put up a roof, that’s when people get excited,” Hazel said. “There will come a time in the near future when progress won’t be visible to people on the street.” Hazel said the contractors on the project were waiting for a “dry and conditioned environment” before serious inside work could begin.
Invariably, after indoor work starts to take shape, the people who plan on occupying the space begin to come around, marking their territory and scouting for prime locations.

For Hulet, vice president of member services for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, the operation phase is descending upon him and his staff. The YMCA will be charged with running both the North and South facilities under the terms of a partnership agreement with the Platte County Commission.

“The operating phase. That’s the part where we come in and do what we do best…run a facility that is state of the art for people in need of the services and programs that we provide,” Hulet said. “It’s a unique experience for the YMCA and a very humbling experience for (Platte County) to ask us.”

Hulet said that along with the responsibility came higher visibility in the community.

“Our marketing department is going kind of nutty from all of the requests to attend special events, openings and chamber events.”

Hulet knows that his opening, projected for next October in Platte City and January in Parkville, will be one of those special events.

“The calendar is already full,” Hulet said. “Everybody’s really excited.”


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