Director Looks to Rebuild Community House Reputation

by DREW HOWARD

Leaders at the Rochester Community House are looking to inject new life into the establishment by booking more weddings and attracting new business partnerships in the coming year. RCH Director Alan Smith addressed the Rochester City Council Monday night to lay out his team’s goals and objectives for the new year.

In an effort to attract more rental clients – in particular weddings and companies – Smith’s team is aiming to renovate the RCH’s two main event rooms with new light fixtures, carpet tiles, paint and more. Such renovations will improve the RCH’s ability to better serve rental clients, Smith said, and furthermore bring in additional revenue.

Rochester Community House Director Alan Smith

According to Smith, booking a wedding instead of a party increases revenue by $2,000 per event. Additionally, RCH management hopes to bring in more youth to the center while also showcasing Rochester businesses in everyday activities in 2019. In order to complete such goals, Smith asked council members to extend its current agreement with the RCH and the utility payment deadline by one year each. These extensions will allow the RCH to use those funds for carpeting, paint and other upgrades to help bring in bookings.

Smith also requested quotes for computer generated concept drawings detailing alterations, repairs and upgrades with a not-to-exceed budget of $6,000. The expense is offset in part by the RCH’s new budget, which projects savings of roughly $13,700 by the end of the year. City council members voted 6-1 in favor of Smith’s requests Monday night.

Mayor Rob Ray described Smith’s enthusiasm for the renovations as “infectious,” and praised the new director’s efforts to rebuild the RCH’s reputation.

“You’ve demonstrated enough good work in the past seven months collectively polishing the gem,” Ray said, referring to the RCH. “The amount you’re saving on electricity alone is about what you’re asking for to go get this…I’m fine with the two motions.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Kim Russell also voted in favor of the motion. “I was married there [RCH] almost 38 years ago, so I know there’s a lot of history and memories that go there,” Russell said. “I believe that this treasure is something that needs some attention…we need to continue to invest in our property that we own as a community.”

Councilmember Ann Peterson voted against the motion Monday night, in particular to Smith’s request that money to be put into RCH conceptual drawings. “We haven’t brought this to our goals and objectives meeting yet,” Peterson said. “And knowing that there are other items that need attention prior to spending that money for the architectural drawings, I’d like to make sure we are planning this out to work appropriately.”

Peterson also took issue with Smith’s plan to increase wedding rentals, arguing that a focus on such events may take away from activities the RCH is known for.

Smith’s full presentation can be read in full online at rochester-mi.org under “City Council Packets.”