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President Speakman, on Remodeling,  2009-2013
President Ray Speakman

Since the time we were first called to the stake presidency, we had responsibility for the Inter-stake center.   There were continual conversations throughout the years on what we could and should do with the property.  However, in the spring of 2009 discussions came to the forefront because the City of Mesa did not want to renew their lease and was turning the management of the outside area back to the church and there was talk that the property might be sold. Mike Garner with the Facilities Management group met with us to discuss what vision we had for the property.  We discussed it and spoke with Steve Smith who had been scheduling it for years to see how it had been used over the years and if it was worth keeping or how it could be used to further the work of the Lord.

In our discussions, we discovered that it was used for numerous church, civic, and organizational activities.  With almost continual use during the fall winter and spring months.  The only months that wasn’t being used was the summer months because it was so hot and there was no air-conditioning.  The feeling was, that if we were to put air conditioning in the building we can have year-round use and be a great asset to the community, the church, schools and other organizations.  We had a couple of problems to deal with the building – one being that the north wing was not classified with the proper occupancy and was not up to code or safe and the underground sewer lines were in serious disrepair.  The north wing was being used by humanitarian services, by the Easter pageant costume storage, by the facilities management groups, and by the temple lights committee for storage. We then considered the future use of the building.  The decision had already been made to move the humanitarian services to Deseret industries. We had the following idea; if we were to take the south wing of the building, remodeling it and make it available for the Christmas lights and for the Easter pageant costumes.  Then the thought was, with all of those moved out of the north, that we could remodel the north wing and make it available for other activities.  As we look at the outside ground area we had a problem with the two small ball fields, because they were always hitting balls over the fence because the fields were too short.  We decided that we would remove the two small ball fields and approach the church about building a Ramada by the East ball fields.  

With these ideas in place, we formed a committee from the high Council, with Paul Daniels as the chairman, to start looking more seriously at what needed to be done and what could be done, and to monitor the work that was taking place. We spoke with Mike Garner and we were given the approval to go ahead and remove the two small ball fields and to build the Ramada.  This all took place around August 2009.  With all we were talking about, this was considered a major remodel project and would have to be approved by the presiding bishopric. On September 20, 2009, Bishop H David Burton was in town for a stake conference with the Pueblo Stake. After completing his meetings, I met him at the Inter-stake building and we did a walk-through.  During the walk-through, I explained to them what use we have had out of the building over the years and what the potential would be if we were able to have the remodeling completed. I explained to how I felt that if we could have the building remodeled and have air conditioning put in the gymnasium area how it would be a major benefit to the church to the community to the schools and other organizations.  After my meeting with Bishop Burton, things started moving ahead. The conversation about selling the property never came up again.

In August 2009 Mesa South Stake took over the management and upkeep of the exterior the Inter-stake center grounds.  Brother Steve Smith took over the scheduling of the ballparks. An irrigation specialist was called to take care of the irrigation. And brother Ned Brimley was called as the Ellsworth Park coordinator.  The city of Mesa came in and removed all the playground equipment and the existing model.

Discussions continued and a plan was put in place, in October 2009 we started the remodel of the exterior of the Inter-stake center grounds.  The two small ball fields on the north were removed, the infield gravel was removed and dirt was brought in to level the fields.  Steve Smith and his family moved the small bleachers from the small ball field area to the fields on the East.  The chain link fence configuration was changed and we received our first flood irrigation that covered the ball field area. A stake youth activity was planned for November, where the stake youth would create the berms that were needed around the property. Planning for the interior of the building continued and a letter was sent to all the Stake Presidents in the Mesa West Coordinating Council requesting their input as to the potential use of the building and property.  One of the recommendations that we received back was to be able to use it for Scouting meetings.

During the early part of 2010 discussions were held and plans were made to move the FM group out of the building, to remodel the South wing of the building to accommodate the storage for the Temple Christmas lights and for the Easter Pageant costumes.   On July 1, 2010 approval was given to do the remodel on the South wing and move the lights and costumes to that area.  As the discussions with the church continued regarding the costs and the remodeling of the North wing and the gymnasium, the church felt it might be best to demo the north wing and turn it into parking lot.  Bids were received and plans were drawn.  As we continued down the path, we took another look at remodeling the North wing instead of demoing it.  We got excited when we thought about what we could use the North wing for- Youth Conferences, Scout Roundtables, other conferences and meetings.  So we then took a look at how we could save the North wing and how we could remodel it to make it most useful.  When we looked at the additional costs to do the remodel instead of the demolition the difference was not a whole lot more and the decision was made to remodel the North wing instead of demoing it.  The changes to the grounds continued and on Aug 9, 2010 approval was given for the construction of the Ramada on the east end of the property by the East ball fields.  As a Stake, we were given permission to run the project.  Bro. Mario Flores was appointed as the project manager for the Ramada.  When he moved out of the stake, Bro. Doug Schnepf was called to that position. Many hours were donated by stake members and we were also able to use many stake members as paid contractors to do the work on the pavilion.  It was completed late summer of 2011.

When I was released in September of 2011 the plans were underway for the remodeling of the North wing and the gymnasium and the responsibility for the Inter-stake center was transferred to President Johnson and his councilors.

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