The Wi-Fi at the new Lincoln University Wellness and Parks Multi-Purpose Recreation Center may not be functioning just yet, but the Jefferson City Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department's executive staffers are on their way.
Eleven members of the Parks leadership team, now officed in the City Annex on Monroe Street, will find new workplace homes on the main level of the Wellness Center on the Lincoln campus off Lafayette Street, across from Jefferson City High School.
Parks hit its Jan. 30 construction completion target and has begun the next phase of the opening of the 80,000-square-foot, three-level structure. The building, perched on a prominent hill southeast of downtown, provides a mammoth fieldhouse, elevated jogging/walking track, 21st century fitness center, classrooms, community rooms, entertainment facilities and, on the lower level, a home for the Lincoln football team as well as the national champion men's and women's track and field teams.
Parks staffers will move from their current offices in the old City National Savings and Loan building over the next few days, depending on the installation of Wi-Fi and other communications technology. Three staffers will remain at the Monroe Street location, at least for the near term, including Director Todd Spalding. Two other staffers now working from Monroe Street will shift to existing offices in the Parks maintenance headquarters on Ellis Boulevard.
Parks and Lincoln officials have not announced the dates for opening the Wellness Center to its first games, events and individual workouts. That should occur in the next couple of weeks, however, Spalding said this week. A grand opening celebration is probably due in March, several sources have said. A joint Parks and Lincoln committee is now planning that event.
The main level and upper floor of the Wellness Center are awaiting the crucial Wi-Fi service and furnishings but are otherwise virtually ready for public use. The lower level is undecorated and unfurnished, awaiting budgeting approval from the Lincoln Board of Curators, which meets Thursday.
As the Parks employees get acquainted with new parking spaces at a new address, the city will launch an analysis of what to do with the City Annex.
City Administrator Steve Crowell said Friday the City Council would consider a staff recommendation at its Monday meeting to retain The Architects Alliance to conduct a study and submit multiple proposals for repurposing the current City Annex. Crowell said discussions had centered on redesigning and renovating the building to accommodate the municipal judicial system, including its judge, prosecutor and support staff. Jefferson City's court handles 12,000-13,000 cases per year.
The concept, Crowell said, was to move the city's legal apparatus from City Hall to the City Annex "once Parks moves out, which is not going to happen immediately."
Crowell said The Architects Alliance, if the staff proposal wins Council approval Monday, will be tasked with offering options for the potential change with a high, medium and low range of financial commitment from the city.