Hardhats are out in full force at St. Anthony on the Lake Parish, Pewaukee, where several additions, including a parish life center, parish activity center, gymnasium and upgrades to the school are underway.A computer image shows an aerial view of what the completed St. Anthony campus will look like. (Submitted image courtesy of MSI General)

“It’s an extensive project,” Fr. Anthony Zimmer, pastor, said. “We’ve outgrown our space here, which is a good problem to have.”

Ground was broken June 28 with project completion set for August 2015, he said.

Parish leaders began discussing the idea of expansion in 2007, inviting architects to survey the facility.

“At that time, they said (the facilities) were already five years behind space needs,” said Mary Jo Stoll, director of administrative services.

According to Fr. Zimmer, $6.4 million has been budgeted for the project, with construction expected to cost more than $5 million and the remainder to be spent on furnishings. 

“There’s a lot of renovation and a lot of addition that requires a lot of thoughtful phasing and understanding the existing mechanical systems,” said Craig Coursil, president of MSI General, the company in charge of the construction.

Coursil, a St. Anthony parishioner, noted his company was selected through an interview process with the parish, not because of his connection with the parish.

The old gym will be converted into a “parish life center,” a multi-purpose space to primarily accommodate the parish’s growing Christian formation programming which can serve 600-800 people.

“The existing gym is an old building that we will be renovating on the inside,” Coursil said, adding some of the areas under construction will be approached with some delicacy so as not to create any unforseen issues with existing plumbing and electrical systems.

Coursil, an eighth-grade Christian formation teacher for the parish from 1999-2007, recalled how he’d regularly have to change locations of his classes to accommodate increasing numbers. He hopes the new additions will help limit some of those problems.

The new St. Anthony gymnasium will include one large basketball court, two smaller basketball courts and two volleyball courts as pictured in this architectural sketch. (Submitted image courtesy of MSI General)“From a functional standpoint, it’s really going to improve the church’s ability to provide ministry,” Coursil said.

The parish will also expand the current gathering space to include a lounge, fireplace and kitchenette.

A huge portion of the construction will be to upgrade school facilities. The school, which is expanding to include K-4, will feature an art and science room, a media center, office space, more restrooms and renovations of existing classroom space. 

“Our present gym is very inadequate, too small; the ceiling is too low, the floors are cement,” Fr. Zimmer said. “They’re just not adequate to the growing athletic program we have.”

Bill Hoile, head of the building committee and the treasurer trustee for the parish, said the project makes better use of space.

“What we’re doing is we’re not really, in a lot of cases, adding space. We’re making space exclusive,” Hoile said, adding the gym is “woefully inadequate … you can only have one practice at a time.”

The new gym will contain two small, parallel basketball courts and one high school size court perpendicular to the smaller ones. This will allow for two volleyball matches to occur at a time along with two basketball practices. 

Hoile said expanding the office space has been a necessity since the parish moved into its present office in 1999.

“I think it gives the staff the proper facilities to do their job better,” Hoile said of the future space.

This computer-created image offers a look at the new school from the parking lot. The $6.4 million renovation project at St. Anthony will include a new gymnasium and renovation of the former gym into a parish life center, and is expected to be completed next August. (Submitted image courtesy of MSI General)Fr. Zimmer said in its current state, as many as four people share an office. 

The funding and planning for the building project began in 2007 when the parish looked at feasibility studies. In 2008, during the recession, the project was put on hold until 2012 when the parish thought it could go forward with the project. 

Fr. Zimmer said, as of now, just under $2 million has been raised.

Each year the parish has a golf/dinner auction called “Hot Summer Slice” which raises more than $100,000 annually. Every other year, a dinner action, “All that Jazz,” brings in more than $70,000.

In addition to those events, finances generated through the Faith in Our Future Fund, a trust established by then-Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan in 2007, have been designated for these projects. Donations from parishioners have also helped close the gap.

“All of this was done through the stewardship of the parishioners,” Fr. Zimmer said. “They pledged and they gave. It’s a very generous community.”

Fr. Zimmer said the surrounding community is growing with young families and the median age of the parishioners is 32 years old. 

Hoile said the parish plans to continue to raise money throughout the construction.

“By the time we’re done with the project, our goal is to have a mortgage or a loan of less than $1 million which we will do another campaign and pay off in three to five years,” Hoile said. 

Fr. Zimmer said they plan to raise another million dollars and get a bank loan of $2 million. 

“It’s a daunting task but you pack your patience, you trust in the Holy Spirit,” said Fr. Zimmer. 

“The exterior work will be done by the end of the year,” Hoile said, adding that in the spring and summer of 2015, the interior will be completed. “We have to get a lot of things done before school starts.”