Activity center plan is an intriguing ideaThe idea of a multi-million-dollar activity center in Jamestown is an interesting one. The proposed price tag for Two Rivers Activity Center is $30 million. That seems steep, but it’s an initial figure that includes facilities for a number of different groups and could very well shrink if organizers remove potential features.
The idea of a multi-million-dollar activity center in Jamestown is an interesting one.
The proposed price tag for Two Rivers Activity Center is $30 million. That seems steep, but it’s an initial figure that includes facilities for a number of different groups and could very well shrink if organizers remove potential features.
For comparison, Dickinson opened a $12 million facility — the West River Community Center — well before the oil boom in 2004. Now it’s already in the early stages of discussing a $15 million expansion to meet increasing needs.
TRAC Committee members have said they don’t want to be in that position. If this facility gets built, they want to include as many groups as possible and as many offerings as possible.
It’s wise to future-proof any plans for an activity center. A recent population study projects Jamestown will gain 1,000 people by 2020 — without taking into account growth caused by the construction of a massive fertilizer plant near Spiritwood — and even more in following years.
The TRAC is still well within the early planning stages. This means there’s time to dream big about what this facility could feature.
One suggested asset is a sports bubble — an inflatable structure with an artificial-turf floor that provides room for sports all year. Imagine a warm patch of land where residents can play football, organize a game of soccer or hit golf balls, even in the middle of winter.
Also intriguing is the potential inclusion of an indoor water park that would give Jamestown swimmers a place to enjoy themselves while cooling off — or warming up. Dickinson’s WRCC has two water slides, a lazy river and a play area with water jets and waterfalls as well as a sauna.
Dickinson has shown a center like this can operate in the black. It has also shown that once built, the people will come.
Granted, Jamestown isn’t in the Oil Patch, which has arguably played in a factor in WRCC admissions in the past year or two. But we are experiencing real, sustained economic growth with more to come. Now is the right time to talk about what we can add to our city to make it a better place to live.
It’s often said there isn’t much to do for youth in Jamestown. TRAC could change that, while giving all our residents another opportunity to be active and healthy. Also, this proposed activity center would help attract new residents, fueling further economic growth.
But all these options cost money, and there will be some challenging decisions when it comes to finding the money for such an ambitious project.
TRAC Committee members have said in public meetings that once the 1-cent sales tax paying for Jamestown High School expires in 2017, a similar tax could be used for building an activity center.
Whether the committee can convince the voters to go that route is another matter. Arguments can easily be made that Jamestown should use any available revenue for repairing its aging sanitary sewer system, upgrading the Civic Center or building a new library. Voters might also prefer to let the sales tax expire and not replace it.
The TRAC Committee has its work cut out for it in researching and planning this proposed facility and figuring out how to keep it from being a financial strain on the city.
But the effort is worth it. This center could be a shining star in the community and improve the quality of life here for many.
We believe the committee is on the right track and we look forward to seeing what it comes up with.
(Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper’s editorial board)