NORMAL — Three years after it opened at 600 E. Willow St., Normal Township's senior Activity and Recreation Center is still growing, and officials are planning improvements to keep pace.

The township will spend $1.1 million this year to renovate ARC and the township hall at 304 E. Mulberry St., and it will soon be able to offer more parking to the facility's 4,400 members.

"There are days we get a thousand members coming in ... and we know that can cause issues," said Rick Lewis, ARC's director of operations. "I had a chance to talk to the staff at the Special Olympics building (across Willow Street), and they've indicated they're more than happy to share their parking spaces with us when we have these overcrowded days."

Lewis recommended members walk down to the Beech Street and Willow intersection to cross from Special Olympics to ARC. When asked if the town might paint a crosswalk between the two buildings, Township Supervisor Sarah Grammer said she may write a letter to Mayor Chris Koos.

The township also will add more meeting space and replace the heating and air conditioning system at the building this year. The township extended its bonds by three years and will add $736,500 to the debt for the work.

Officials are still waiting on plans for the renovated space from Farnsworth Group, which took on the project after the township board fired Young Architects of Bloomington in December.

The township hall will get tuck-pointing and a repaved parking lot for a total cost of $35,000.

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Officials discussed those and other issues during the township's annual meeting Tuesday at ARC.

A week after Koos said Grammer acted to "demean and vilify community partners" by calling for Connect Transit's board to be recalled, she highlighted in her presentation the township's community partnerships, including a $30,000 award for the Community Health Care Clinic; a $14,000 grant and $20,000 in-kind donation to Sarah Bush Lincoln Peace Meal; and other in-kind arrangements.

That's in addition to about $300,000 spent on the township's assistance program for low-income residents. That figure includes about $10,000 spent on Connect Transit passes for those residents.

"I just don't think enough people realize what a strong community partner the township is," said Grammer of whether the presentation was directed at Koos. "I've heard a lot of interesting comments from people who aren't happy with me in the last couple weeks. ... I just want to expand the story."

Grammer also noted the township has expanded its partnerships like Silver Sneakers, a program that works with health insurance companies to pay the township ARC memberships for policyholders as preventative medical care. Two more, Renew Active and Silver&Fit, are now active as of Jan. 1.

The township also assesses property values and maintains some local roads. Assessor Rob Cranston and Highway Commissioner Arin Rader said Tuesday they're not planning any major new initiatives for the coming year.

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Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh


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