LIMA — Noon Optimists members Ken Hall and Ben Anderson gave an update on the status of the new Safety City under construction on Collett Street.
The original Safety City was built in 1978, but the Noon Optimists are updating and rebuilding the learning center. It will sit on the 3.5-acre plot at that location.
“We have close to 60 lots to sell,” Hall said. “We are excited about this effort to serve the youth of the city.”
Hall said the project has served more than 100,000 children in Allen County and surrounding communities. Children learn valuable skills in regards to street safety, fire safety and threats of personal harm.
However, after 30 years the buildings had deteriorated and needed to be replaced to better serve the children.
Work being done includes constructing curbs and sidewalks, expanding the existing classroom and office, a new two-story “Survive Alive House” for fire safety classes, and a larger and more secure storage building to house the bikes and program equipment.
Hall said 32 of the lots have already been purchased and are either constructed, in the process of being constructed, or in plans. Some of the buildings that will be featured at the new Safety City include Lima City Schools, Lima Police Department, which includes a jail, St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima Memorial Health System, Kewpee, Chief’s Supermarket and Husky Lima Refinery.
Hall compared the size of the buildings to that of a wooden storage shed that you would find at Lowe’s.
“It helps train the youngsters in a real-life setting that they are going to be in,” Hall said.
Anderson said the LPD, the Lima Fire Department and other organizations have partnered with the 10-member committee that is spearheading the project to help make it a success.
“It is truly a community partnership,” Anderson said.
Hall said the project was originally scheduled to be completed in September, but unexpected hurdles have streched the opening date to September 2014. One of those hurdles included federal regulations about runoff from the now completed Survive Alive House, which added another $6,500 in costs. A basement is now also in construction on the Survive Alive House to provide both training and real-life protection from severe weather such as tornadoes.
The remaining lots are being sold for $2,500 or $3,500 for front-row lots. All of the front-row lots have been sold. The project has been aided with $40,000 in grants coming from local businesses such as McDonald’s, Lowes, Midwest Electric, State Farm Insurance and TJ Maxx.
Hall said the Noon Optimists support Safety City to the tune of about $15,000 annually and that the program attracts about 7,000 children each year.