Foster house demolition makes way for new community centerThe 19th century house where the late Bruce Foster lived will be demolished this fall. A local nonprofit group hopes this will spur fundraising that results in the construction of a two-story, 19,000 square-foot community center called The Gathering Place.
By: Phil Pfuehler, River Falls Journal
The 19th century house where the late Bruce Foster lived will be demolished this fall. A local nonprofit group hopes this will spur fundraising that results in the construction of a two-story, 19,000 square-foot community center called The Gathering Place.
That group, Foster Community Foundation, was awarded a state grant of almost $15,000 to raze the old Foster house, 404 S. Winter St. -- next to the upper dam and across the street and diametrically opposite the city’s now defunct power plant.
The state money came from the feds after the National Mortgage Settlement in early 2012.
The settlement from the country’s five largest banks followed a lawsuit over foreclosure irregularities by the banks. Wisconsin got nearly $1 million.
Funds were earmarked to clear away blighted areas. Milwaukee got half the money. The rest went to outstate communities.
“People have been asking, ‘When are you going to take that house down?’” said Judie Babcock, daughter of Bruce Foster and FCF president. “Having that happen will make the project we have planned seem very tangible. It shows we really mean it. We’re not kidding.”
Ideally, FCF would like to break ground for The Gathering Place by 2014. The exact date hinges on the success of fundraising. An official “Capital Campaign” has yet to begin.
Babcock says FCF has already lined up three “workspace advisory partners” for The Gathering Place.
- River Falls Community Arts Base
- River Falls Community Theatre
- Seniors Center (River Falls)
None have yet given financially. All seem committed to have a fixed amount of space in the new community center.
Babcock said there are three other groups interested in becoming partners.
In addition, Babcock said the community center will be available as needed for other nonprofits and those who wish to lease space for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, parties and other gatherings.
She said the River Falls Community Food Pantry, having moved to the old Mr. Movies site downtown, apparently will not relocate to the community center as earlier planned.
Babcock said The Gathering Place construction will include the highest environmental and energy efficiency standards and be LEED certified.
No demolition date is set for the Foster house. Babcock says FCF still has to raise money for that.
Once the razing is done, the tab is submitted to the state. Compensation, once approved, will follow from the grant.
Lund Builders Inc., 1010 N. Main St., is the contractor for the Foster house’s demolition and grading. Lund will oversee any subcontractors.
The Minneapolis architect for The Gathering Place will be Chris Gibbs of Hammel, Green and Abrahamson.
FCF also has finished renovating The Pavilion on the same site as the future community center. There, it sponsors The Art Wagon Program each Monday for local kids.
The site also includes two recently built apartments for UW-River Falls students by the Gerrard Corp.
Babcock said a 178-foot blacktopped paved trail -- Chinnock-Foster Pathway -- along Lake George will also be dedicated sometime in fall. The pathway on the property is already being used by citizens this summer.
The key push now, Babcock says, is fundraising. Donors who give will have their money go toward the Foster house demolition.
Once state grant reimbursement comes, those donations will “roll forward” toward the larger project of building The Gathering Place.
“Please help us, and thanks for all your feedback so far” Babcock said. “Every dollar that you give will help make this project happen.”
For more information, check the FCF website at www.foster-foundation.org. There’s a “donate tab.”
To donate by U.S. mail, send your payment to Foster Community Foundation, Inc./P.O. Box 362/River Falls, WI 54022.
Another source of information about FCF can be had by calling David Babcock at 651-303-7486 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.