Isanti County updated on Braham’s Community Center

The Isanti County Board on April 3 received an update on the Braham Area Community Center, which is coming this fall.

Marie Grundberg and Terry Lind gave a presentation with plenty of details and visual aids surrounding the “Building Our Dream” campaign. With site work scheduled to start in May, a groundbreaking ceremony is planned for May 1.

“This is our dream,” Grundberg smiled. “We have lots of activities we want to promote.”

At 14,000 square feet and with a seating capacity of 300 people, the community center is a place where activities will bring families and neighbors together. It will include a large meeting area, a banquet hall for reunions and wedding receptions, space for youth and senior events, business and civic group meetings, the food shelf, a library with Internet access, art and educational opportunities and a full commercial kitchen, Grundberg and Lind explained.

“This is exciting,” Boardchair Susan Morris said. “Kudos to you and the Braham community for this project.”

Lind added, “Hopefully we can draw Cambridge, Isanti and surrounding counties to us.”

Grundberg said the center is going to be affordable, too, with volunteers helping out at first until a steady flow of funds can be determined. Meanwhile, a committee is working on a fee schedule, and a general coordinator is being sought to help facilitate the events.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Grundberg said.

Since fundraising kicked off at Braham Appreciation Day in June 2010, significant contributions have been secured toward the project’s $1.7 million goal. To date, more than 300 individuals and groups have donated.

It all began in August 2006, when the Braham Area Chamber of Commerce applied to the Initiative Foundation for a Healthy Communities Partnership grant and won $15,000 for leadership development. Grant participants hosted a community visioning session a year later, and 100 people voted unanimously to build a community center.

In August 2008, an application to the University of Minnesota’s Horizon anti-poverty project was successful, and the Horizons program and training came to Braham. The intent of the work was to help develop assets needed to support the community center concept. Leadership training began in 2009.

Meantime, Tusen Tack stepped forward with $100,000 toward the physical structure and leadership to help direct the process. The Tusen Tack Community Center Task Force committee formed, as well, and there’s been plenty of accomplishments along the way.

The task force worked with the city of Braham and identified a piece of city land that would be appropriate for the center. It was close to the school and biking and hiking trails, and it was large enough to accommodate the building and sufficient parking spaces.

Next, the task force identified a construction project management firm, and through its assistance developed the preliminary design of the community center and cost estimates. A feasibility study of the project was completed by the task force with Janna King from Economic Development Services.

The task force also worked with the city, King and Lakes and Pines in submitting a successful DEED grant request for $600,000. A USDA loan application was successful, too, in acquiring a loan guarantee for 60 percent.

In addition, the task force initiated a fundraising campaign and has received donations from over 237 families and 32 organizations. Fifteen fundraising events have been held, also.

According to literature provided by Grundberg and Lind at the county board meeting, “The dream of a Braham Area Community Center is one where all can gather to celebrate, learn, listen, share, grow — as individuals and as a community.”

For more information on this endeavor or to donate, go to BrahamCenter.org. The community center is a registered nonprofit charitable organization.

In other action, the board:

• Ruled that a public complaint involving water issues on 269th Ave. NW and Stanford Township East’s alleged negligence in maintaining the roadway was not “well founded” based on the testimony presented by a number of concerned township property owners during an evidentiary hearing facilitated by Isanti County Attorney Jeff Edblad. The evidence does not support the complaint that the water issues or the township’s actions caused the roadway to be impassable, commissioners concluded.

At issue, township resident Dean Daudt and others who live along 269th signed a petition complaining of incorrect work on culvert and ditch elevations, lack of quality control and other matters that have been causing major water problems on their properties. After the hearing, Daudt said he will research the issue further to hopefully find the right platform to address and resolve the issue.

• Approved to have the planning commission amend the zoning ordinance to allow for rural retail uses as a conditional use in the agricultural/residential district.

• Approved a premises permit for gambling activity to supplement the Mystic Riders Snowmobile Club at the County Line Restaurant and Bar.

up arrow