For the past two years, there has been some very quiet work behind the scenes as we move forward with a significant renovation and expansion of our beloved Thom Storm Chalet. This email is designed to give an update on our progress and an idea of what we are working on moving forward. We also have great volunteer opportunities coming up soon, and will need your help! This is a long post, but please read through to the end for full information on the project!
After the City of Duluth passed the Chester Park Mini-Master plan in November 2014, our Chester Bowl Improvement Club (CBIC) Board of Directors and Development Committee began researching the feasibility of expanding our Chalet.
If you have been in the chalet on a busy ski day, you know we are at our capacity for use! Our programs continue to grow, without any advertising, and we need more space for participants to be during programming. This is also true for our summer day camp, where we have had to cap enrollment well below interest levels; even though kids are outside 95% of the time, we need a safe indoor space for when we have inclement weather. The building is extremely energy inefficient, and different spaces in the building are often too hot and too cold simultaneously. There are significant upcoming maintenance needs. And the Chalet is not compliant with ADA accessibility standards. We couldn’t even host our own public meetings here because the only access to the upper level is by stairs. For these reasons, and many more, we are pursuing a significant renovation and expansion of the Thom Storm Chalet.
Working with LHB Architects, who have been providing their services free of charge (thank you LHB!) we held a series of public meetings and events to get feedback on what our community’s needs are for a renovated building and to create a preliminary design plan for the building. This plan was approved by the City of Duluth Parks Commission, and has been presented to staff of the Planning Department. You can review the plan online at https://www.chesterbowl.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/150582-CBIC-Drawings-041216.pdf.
We also recruited our Capital Campaign Leadership Team, which is responsible for leading the rest of the project through to building completion and celebration. This group has been meeting weekly since October (at 7 am!) to determine our final project cost and put together the plan for raising the funds necessary. They will lead fundraising, the completion of construction ready design plans with LHB, the construction of the building with our contractors, and the celebration of our completed chalet. This group of committed volunteers includes Fundraising Co-Chairs Corbin Smyth and Curt Leitz, Communications Chair Jordan Milan, and Building Design Chair Deb Kellner, supported by Executive Director Dave Schaeffer. If you see them around town, please say “Thank you!”
So, what’s next? The biggest question we get asked is, “When will construction start?”. We know that we will time it so that we do not miss a winter season, but we do not have a start date at this time; it depends on the speed of success of our capital campaign. The earliest we anticipate possible construction is Spring 2018, but it is much more likely that construction would begin in 2019 or 2020. We will start the “quiet” phase of the campaign early in 2017, soliciting donations from our largest potential individual donors and corporate sponsors. You won’t hear much from us during this time, until we start up our public campaign six months to a year later.
For this first phase, we need a few more volunteers in several key roles. We are looking to recruit people to be directly involved in fundraising, soliciting donations from corporations, individuals, and our Chester Bowl community at large, and grantwriting. These first positions would be directly involved in the planning of our public outreach campaign in their specific focus area. We also need several “party planners” to help plan and implement special events during the duration of the campaign, with the first likely to be in March 2017. Please reply directly to Dave at email@example.com if you are interested in these roles, or call him at 724-9832 for more details on the positions.
If these are not a fit for you, please know there will be many other ways to help out over the next few years. We are counting on all of you- our Chester Bowl Community- to help us make this vision a reality. All volunteer hours spent with our campaign count towards your family’s winter program volunteer commitment.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end, and thank you for your support.
Dave and the Capital Campaign Leadership Team