WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Twomey: Decision on Community First Still Being Formed

Jan 11, 2017

Representatives from the Macomb School District, the city, McDonough District Hospital, and the YMCA are still studying whether it's feasible to build a new middle school and community center.

“A concept of this nature really requires each entity to really take a critical look at its needs, its wants, its desires, (and) how it could use and share space with other entities,” said school Superintendent Mark Twomey.

Dr. Twomey said there is no deadline for making a decision. But he said the partners should have a pretty good idea in a few months whether they can move forward with the project.  He said each of the partners is committed to taking the necessary steps to get an honest answer as to the project’s feasibility.

Twomey said the partners have “conceptual ideas” of what the building might include: a new middle school, a YMCA, and space for some hospital programs. He said the partners would save money on land development by working together instead of building separate facilities.  He said the shared spaces would provide further savings.

The school district’s share of the cost could be paid for through McDonough County’s one-cent sales tax for school construction projects.  Voters approved the tax in November.  The county’s sales tax receipts were down in the past year but Twomey said the district will be conservative in estimating how much revenue it anticipates from the tax.

He said no site has been chosen for the building, but added there are not many open spaces in Macomb large enough to accommodate such a facility.

“We’ll look at each one of those options, we’ll budget each one of those options out, and in the end I think they’ll land on what is truly best for Macomb as a community,” he said.

Twomey also said he has entertained the idea of using the former high school building on South Johnson Street – though not for Community First.

“In all transparency, I have thought about that building as a potential (building) for the school district,” he said, adding the district would have to bring in architectural experts to determine the building’s condition and the feasibility of renovating it.

The former high school building currently serves as the Macomb campus for Spoon River College, but the college hopes to eventually relocate its entire Macomb operation to a site on East Jackson Street.