When one of the musical acts that frequent Creighton Lodge plays an evening, the residents of the lodge have to pack in pretty tight.
That's going to change shortly, with plans to more than double the amount of space in the front foyer and lounge. Creighton Lodge, owned by a consortium of rural municipalities in the southeast, has already raised much of the costs for construction of the lounge which they hope to begin early next spring.
RM of Estevan administrator Greg Hoffort said the final decision to start construction will be made by the five municipalities, which he expects to happen in early 2012.
Now that the rooms at the facility are full, with 45 total occupants, work is being done to maximize the kinds of activities that can be held at the building for its residents. The front wall of the building will be knocked out for the expansion, but no trees will have to come down to accommodate the new space. One will be transplanted to a new location.
The common area, typically designated for functions, will then be widened by 30 feet, as construction stretches part of the building closer to Hillcrest Drive. That is going to add more than 1,300 square feet to the lounge.
Judy Pratt, lodge manager, said because of the number of residents there just isn't enough room for everybody when they want to hold events or activities in the lounge. She added that they had "jokingly" considered adding more rooms, which may have added relief to the 50-person waiting list, but she said then they thought, "there's no point in adding on rooms when you can't even have a function that houses all the people who already live here now."
Residents can't even invite family members to an event, Pratt pointed out, because if everybody invited one person there would be 90 attendees. Even without the addition of more people, the dining room is usually what fills up as seating space for one of the concerts, creating a separation between the entertainment and the spectators.
"They don't even feel really a part of what's going on."
Many nights now have the residents in the lounge enjoying games or the evening's entertainment. Usually attracting between 35 and 40 of the residents, these events have gained such popularity that it has just become too much to continue holding them in the modest lounge. When the entertainment grows, the venue needs to keep up.
Bringing in a five or six piece band usually leaves a member or two playing in the hallway because it's just so "cramped" said Pratt. There are groups within the community, like youth dance schools, that she would like to extend an invitation to perform, but she knows the space would not be sufficient for the act.
It's not just the entertainment that uses the space, but it's also other activities. Pratt said there is a group of about 10 women who like to exercise together in the lounge. A lot of what they do is from a chair, so when they bring in the necessary seating for these women, there is little room left for them.
The timing is great for other improvements the building needs. Pratt said the windows in the lounge needed to be replaced, and they thought if they are going to do some construction, they might as well redo the whole lounge, rather than installing new windows, only to later do the construction.
"We are at the point right now where these windows are so drafty that we have to foam fill them every winter, and then rip that out in the summer."
Meetings were held letting the residents know about the plans for the lounge, and they have provided lots of feedback. They have given Pratt comments about where they think things should go and what kind of furniture should be purchased. She said they are really excited to see the final product.
"You can see as the changes happen within the building, (the residents) are very involved," said Pratt. "They love to watch what's happening here. They like to be participating, and they like to have their say. It's wonderful."
She is going to do some redecorating as well when the walls come down. The lounge will be getting all new furniture for the space. Artwork is currently going up in the hallways of the lodge, with local pieces, or framed puzzles done by some of the residents.
When construction begins, the lounge won't be the only thing that's added. There is going to be a new entrance and an office or storage room. Pratt said that the current entrance brings people right into the lounge, which can be full during an event or church service. The new entrance will avoid such crowded circumstances.
"We're changing the entryway to the building, so that when you come in, you're not coming in, in the middle of the entertainment."