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VIDEO and AUDIO: Coldwater receives $11 million gift to build aquatic center and expand recreation facility


COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) -  Dr. Robert W. Browne, and his wife Lynn, have made the financial commitment of funding up to $11 million dollars for a major expansion of recreational facilities within the City of Coldwater. The project will include an aquatic center on the grounds of Legg Middle School, at the corner of Bishop and Western Avenues. In addition, there will be a major expansion of the Heritage Independence Recreation Gymnasium.

This multi-million dollar donation benefiting the community and Coldwater Community Schools will include a state of the art aquatic center with an eight lane competitive pool, separate warm water zero entry therapy pool, spectator seating, locker rooms and community rooms. The facility will be designed with the latest in energy saving green technology.

With the gift from Dr. Browne, the Heritage Independence Recreation Gymnasium will more than double in size. It will include a multi-purpose floor that will be usable for basketball, volleyball, tennis, soccer and other community activities. The facility will also include an indoor walking track and community rooms.

Dr. Robert W. Browne is the American success story. Coming from humble beginnings as a child in Coldwater, this distinguished alumni of the 1942 graduating class of Coldwater High School succeeded in serving his country as a WWII bomber pilot. He returned from the war to put himself through dental school at the University of Michigan, eventually becoming an orthodontist, and ultimately a successful businessman and philanthropist in the Grand Rapids area.

Dr. Browne has always remembered the time he spent in Coldwater and the lessons he learned during those lean depression era times. His first donation to the Coldwater community was the complete remodeling of the United Methodist Church in honor of his grandmother, Muriel, in 1997. Later in 2002, he was responsible for donating funds to build the Henry L. Brown Municipal Building. The building was named after his grandfather who had served on the City Council from 1938 to 1942. Ironically, the press conference announcing this project was held in the council chamber that bears his grandfather’s name.

“Recreational activities relate to quality of life for a community, and this will be a huge asset and positive impact to Coldwater,” said Tom Kramer, Mayor of Coldwater. “We cannot emphasize enough how appreciative we are to Dr. Browne for this generous gift to our community. The economic impact of this project will be felt in every industry. Community recreation is one of the top areas that businesses and families look at when relocating to a new community.”

Dr. Tina Kerr, Superintendent of Coldwater Community Schools stated, “The addition of an aquatic center is momentous for our school district. We intend to use the resources of the facility to provide birth to senior therapeutic and recreational programming. We are so privileged to have a Coldwater graduate think so highly of his education and childhood that he gives back in a way that will impact our students for decades to come. This is more than an aquatic center; this is a community center for everyone to use.”

Also speaking on behalf of Coldwater Community Schools was Board President Robin Iveson who noted, “Our students will have year round access to facilities that will provide them with healthy activities that build their skills and self-esteem. This is a huge step from a fitness standpoint, not to mention the social and team building opportunities for our school district.”

The City will be collaborating with Coldwater Community Schools to operate both facilities and provide enrichment programs which will benefit both students and community members. The project is set to break ground in 2013 and is expected to be completed in early 2014. Integrated Architecture of Grand Rapids will be designing the facilities.