Community rec center effort moves forward

Community recreation center organizers in Jamestown continue to make progress. Organizers have written articles of incorporation and expect approval next month.

Community recreation center organizers in Jamestown continue to make progress. Organizers have written articles of incorporation and expect approval next month.

Brainstorming began for a community recreation center about two years ago. The center would likely include tennis courts, gymnastics facilities, space for the James River YMCA and even a water park. To write the articles of incorporation, organizers named the center Two Rivers Activity Center.

The name won't necessarily stick, said Bob Toso, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools, as it's a formality for the primary paperwork.

Articles of incorporation mean the center can operate as a non-profit and begin raising funds.

Organizers are pondering the center because it's a need for a city the size of Jamestown, said Mark Olson, executive director of the YMCA.


The YMCA is seeking to expand. Limited by its location on Jamestown College's campus, a community recreation center would allow space for the YMCA to expand programs like daycare, Olson said.

"The facility at this point is not meeting everyone's needs," he said.

Also located on Jamestown College's campus is the community swimming pool. Once the city's lease with the college expires, the pool will likely need a new home, said Doug Hogan, director of the Department of Parks and Recreation in Jamestown.

If a community recreation center is built, it would likely be located on up to four acres adjacent to Jamestown High School. That could allow space for a water park.

And, if space allows, the YMCA seeks to add infants and toddlers to its child care programs.

That's what organizers are working out -- the ifs.

Organizers said many aspects of the center are still in the planning stages, but they determined the center will be user-friendly and open to all ages.

But more planning needs to be done, organizers say.


Five entities allocated money for a development study, which would determine if Jamestown wants a center and if the city could support it. Those entities include the YMCA, Jamestown Public School District, Jamestown Parks and Recreation, Jamestown Tennis Association and the Jamestown Gymnastic Club.

In a city-wide survey conducted in April, Jamestown residents indicated they wanted more activities.

"People are looking for activities to strengthen their lifestyle," Hogan said.

One of those activities is tennis -- a growing pastime, said Pam Musland, president of the Jamestown Tennis Association.

The tennis association is pushing for four indoor tennis courts, which would allow for better practices and competition, Musland said.

"It's hard to do even any kind of programming with just two courts," she said.

Plus, four indoor courts means Jamestown could host tournaments and bring out-of-town visitors to Jamestown. Those tournaments may have an economic impact on the city.

Similar in size to Jamestown, Dickinson, N.D., opened a community recreation center in 2004. There, organizers projected 1,700 annual memberships. The center, however, exceeded original expectations and 4,200 members are enrolled for this year, said James Kramer, director of Parks and Recreation in Jamestown.


Organizers in Jamestown say those factors are good indicators for Jamestown.

Once the study is complete, organizers will begin fundraising.

If they can raise $12 million to $13 million, the center will begin construction in 2012 and likely open in 2013.

The Dickinson center, named the West River Community Center, cost about the same.

Its 93,000 square foot facility includes space for swimming, tennis, fitness and even a rock climbing wall.

West River Community Center is a destination for the area, Kramer said, in part, because Dickinson does not have a civic center.

Organizers in Jamestown say its center could be a destination too. And that helps attract people to the area.

"You build something like this and they will come," Olson said.


In Dickinson, residents approved a half-cent sales tax that funded construction costs and allows extra money for long-term maintenance or other emergency costs. In five years, the center has sustained itself on revenue generated from memberships, tournaments and events, Kramer said. It has not had to dip into its contingency fund.

A center in Jamestown may use public money. Or, if it can generate enough, the center may rely on donations. Funding for the Jamestown project hasn't been determined.

Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at

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