Activity center: Two Rivers Activity Center Committee has rendering of planIt’s been years in the making, and it’ll likely be years before anything is finalized, but one group of citizens is making progress to give Jamestown a community activity center.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
It’s been years in the making, and it’ll likely be years before anything is finalized, but one group of citizens is making progress to give Jamestown a community activity center.
The Two Rivers Activity Center Committee has been working on a plan for nearly five years. Now it has a rendering that encompasses what each entity involved would like to see.
TRAC would be a community activity center that would meet the needs of all five groups involved: Jamestown Public Schools, Jamestown Parks and Recreation, James River Family YMCA, Jamestown Tennis Association and the Jamestown Gymnastics Club.
“I was at a JSDC (Jamestown/ Stutsman Development Corp.) committee meeting and we were talking about keeping younger professionals in town and keeping people in town,” said Bob Toso, JPS superintendent. “A lot of times it comes down to infrastructure — people want things to do — a lot of communities are looking at something like this.”
Dickinson, West Fargo, Fargo and Aberdeen, S.D., all have activity centers like the proposed TRAC.
Jamestown Public School District would donate land behind the high school for the site. The district would also relocate some sports closer to the school.
“The biggest thing from the schools’ perspective would be tennis and gymnastics,” Toso said. “Because we sponsor both of those programs and it would be a lot more conducive for those programs to have them literally on campus.”
Both the local tennis and gymnastics organizations say those sports could grow, and possibly flourish with a facility like TRAC.
“If you’re talking to any tennis player the opportunity to play indoors in Jamestown would be incredible,” said Pam Musland, Jamestown Tennis Association representative on the TRAC Committee.
Indoor courts would allow for year-round leagues and more instructional clinics.
Plus four indoor courts would allow Jamestown the ability to host more youth and some regional high school tournaments, Musland said.
“We’ve had some really great participation in the girls’ and boys’ level as far as student athletes, and we want to make sure that continues and build on the program,” she said. “Indoor courts would really enhance the high school program.”
The same can be said for gymnastics, said Mike Gee, TRAC Committee representative from the Jamestown Gymnastics Club.
The current Jamestown gymnastics facility has about 6,800 square feet of floor space. At TRAC, Gee wants to see 10,000 square feet.
The additional space would benefit gymnastics on youth and high school levels, he said.
“With the additional square footage we could increase our boys’ program because we’re really crunched for space,” he said.
Equipment wouldn’t have to be relocated for each meet, plus his optimal TRAC design would allow for more spectator space.
Gymnastics already brings economic impact dollars into Jamestown, but an expanded facility could allow for more out-of-state competitors at younger levels, Gee said.
Sometimes space is an issue at the James River Family YMCA in the Larsen Center at Jamestown College.
Because collegiate athletic teams are given priority for court space over members, when those teams practice some Y members can’t play the sports they want when they want.
“It can be inconvenient,” said Rachel Liechty, James River Family YMCA president. “We’re hoping that in building a facility like this, we’re more of a community center.”
The YMCA would handle the daily operations of TRAC.
Liechty said Jamestown College has been good to the YMCA, but that both organizations might benefit from a change.
“I want to make sure that the community knows that the relationship between the Y and the college has been a good one,” she said. “The college is growing too. I believe they (JC) could be able to take over the building easily and they could do something (more) with sports.”
The community also has a lot at stake in TRAC, said Doug Hogan, parks and rec director and at-large community member on the TRAC Committee.
“I don’t look at it so much as a benefit for Parks and Recreation,” Hogan said. “Our business is to provide recreational opportunities for the community. I look at this as a benefit for the community more than us.”
Parks and Recreation would, however, benefit from the proposed water park that would replace the aging Jamestown Municipal Swimming Pool, which was built in 1974.
A proposed sports bubble would also allow for year-round flag football, soccer, and practice for golf and softball teams.
Hogan said the sports bubble in Fargo has been successful in the winter months.
“Obviously Fargo is a different kind of animal here with population, but we got Jamestown College and Jamestown High School softball, and youth soccer that would be able to utilize this facility for their athletic teams as well,” he said.
The major problem, however, is the cost.
Toso said the ideal project that includes what each entity would want has a price tag of about $30 million. But he said the TRAC Committee would be willing to work toward building a facility for somewhere between $12 million and $15 million.
One option is using the county-wide 1 cent sales tax after that is done paying off the high school in 2017, he said.
“We have to look at the taxpayer and again maybe when the high school gets paid for we can do that,” Toso said. “But we do understand, and we have had conversations that there are a lot of needs in the community, and that tax dollar is going to be viewed by several groups.”
Toso said the next steps in the project will be educating small community groups about TRAC and then a larger general public campaign. He said both will take an “extended period of time.”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com