Arlington making progress toward community center

Cutline: Pictured above is a drawing of the proposed Arlington Community Center will look like once completed. At right is the proposed building plan that shows a large community room, a meeting room, classrooms, and more. Fundraising efforts have already gathered more than half a million dollars in pledges and gifts in the last year.



Arlington making progress toward community center


Brian Smith
Contributing Writer


The community of Arlington continues to make progress toward its goal of building a community center by June 2015. Fundraising efforts have been quite successful so far, raising half a million dollars in pledges and gifts since the capital campaign began in May 2012.

The idea for the project was initiated by the mayor and the city council, who asked Jeri Watson to be the chairman of a committee to explore the possibilities and eventually take action.

“About three years ago they asked me if I would do it, and I decided that it was a very worthwhile undertaking, so I accepted,” said Watson. 

The committee began its work by researching what people in Arlington wanted in a community center, as well as what other communities have done with their centers. After a year of doing the necessary footwork, the committee began looking for financial resources.

Arlington has already received a $200,000 USDA Community Grant, as well as a Brownfield EPA Grant, a State Brownfield Grant, and a State of Iowa Recycling Grant. It did not receive a grant that would have assisted in making a day-care facility part of the new community center, but there is still hope this can be achieved in a later phase of the community center’s development.

The new center is slated to be 10,820 square feet and able to accommodate up to 300 people. It will have kitchen facilities, a meeting room, a fitness room, and possibly space that can be used for recreational volleyball and basketball.

“I am excited to see what the community center will bring to our community. We will be transforming an eyesore in our community into something we can use. The new building will mean so much to the future of the City of Arlington,” stated Arlington Mayor Donald Handel.

The campaign’s official name is “Raze the School, Raise the Community.” Part of the plan is to incorporate pieces of the old school building into the design of the new community center. The result that is hoped for is an inviting new space for local residents and organizations to use for events.

“It’s amazing to see our small community come together to build toward a common goal,” stated Watson.

Fundraising for the project is an ongoing process, with the final goal being $1.1 million needed for completion. With a little less than half of that in pledges and gifts so far, more donations will be needed over the next few years.

“We had a handful of lead donors who committed generous gifts that have helped us get to this point, and we are still in the process of contacting many other major supporters. We are appreciative of the gifts we have already received and cannot thank the donors enough for their commitment to our community and the future of this city,” Watson noted.

The group has tried to be creative in encouraging donations, suggesting a variety of ways to give. Pledges and gifts are accepted in the form of cash, securities, bequests, life insurance, real estate, grain, or personal property. 

Those who wish to donate funds to the Arlington Community Center project may do so by contacting the Arlington City Government Office at (563) 633-2345 or The public may also donate by contacting committee chairman Jeri Watson at (563) 633-3995.


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