WHITING | Restoration of the Whiting Community Center's lobby and improvements to the lower level of the facility are expected to begin by late summer.
The aim is to bring the lobby of the 90-year-old building back to its original condition, Mayor Joe Stahura said.
The $450,000 project will install replicas of the original lighting fixtures and floor tile, along with refinishing the wooden panels encasing the room. So far, the city has raised approximately $220,000 in donations for the project, with Centier Bank pledging $20,000 on Thursday.
“Everybody in the community has so many memories, and it's so steeped in history in the entire community that I believe it's just the right thing to do to try to preserve the building because of its past,” Stahura said. “You just don't build buildings like this anymore.”
By summer, the city also hopes to have funding to start major upgrades to the downstairs of the community center, Stahura said. The estimated $2 million in work will increase the functionality of the space and upgrade the fitness facilities and locker rooms.
Stahura said the city has a difficult time maintaining the staffing level the facility's design currently requires.
The city has renovated the community center through the years and the phased approach to the improvements caught the attention of the Jeffris Family Foundation, which donated $150,000 to the lobby project.
A director of the foundation, Royce Yeater, said it's clear the community center is a hub for Whiting as he and other city leaders gathered in the lobby Thursday to announce the donations.
“Handsome as it is, it has suffered throughout the years with some of the changes identified here and is ready for a fresh version,” Yeater said. “We believe that the fresh version should be the old version.”