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Press Photo by Bryan Horwath Dickinson Parks and Recreation Director James Kramer, right, points out construction at the West River Community Center to Dickinson City Administrator Shawn Kessel, left, and Mayor Dennis Johnson on Monday afternoon during a tour of the facility by the city commission and other officials.

Constructive meeting: Dickinson Parks and Rec informs city leaders about recreation improvements

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Constructive meeting: Dickinson Parks and Rec informs city leaders about recreation improvements
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Though basketball players who frequent the West River Community Center likely won’t be happy soon, a group of Dickinson city leaders seemed pleased with progress on facility’s expansion following a tour Monday.

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“It looks very impressive,” said Dickinson City Commissioner Carson Steiner. “Everybody’s working hard. They’re working through the winter and things seem to be on schedule. It’s going to be exciting from here on up.”

Steiner’s comments came after he and a group of several others — including mayor Dennis Johnson, city administrator Shawn Kessel, city commissioner Shirley Dukart and Park Board president Mike Lefor — participated in a briefing and walk-through of Dickinson Parks and Recreation’s $23 million expansion project.

Along with officials from Mortenson Construction, parks and rec director James Kramer pointed out the main points of the enhancement, which will include a major upgrade of the WRCC, including a new outdoor pool area, and an ice arena to compliment the Dickinson Recreation Center.

“We really needed to add on to the hockey center and that’s going to be great,” Dukart said. “One concern that I always have is parking, but we have plenty of land to the west here. Also, people will be able to come here on Empire versus always coming on Fairway Street. It should be okay.”

The group braved a nasty December wind following Kramer’s briefing to stroll through the (now-enclosed) area that will feature four new basketball courts, which will free up the current basketball court space in the WRCC to be set up as a free weight area.

Kramer said workers will begin to move equipment from the current courts on Jan. 6, meaning there will be no full-court basketball at the center until sometime in April.

“The community is going to start seeing things begin to really go vertical and I think they’ll be excited,” Steiner said. “We’ll have to let people know that some things will be happening in the mean time, like the gym being shut down, but it will be worth the wait.”

Kramer said the new sheet of ice will be NHL-sized and will be conjoined with the existing Dickinson Rec Center sheet, which has seating capacity for 1,000.

“The ice itself will be exactly the same size as the sheet we have,” Kramer said. “There will be seating for 300 people and will feature all the full player boxes and penalty boxes and will have the same scoreboard. It will just be a little tighter in the building than what the existing facility is. The new (arena) is being constructed in size and mechanically to have ice year-round.

Right now, the Dickinson Hockey Club is not sure if they’re going to do ice year-round, but they will provide ice for a period of time in the summer.”

Kramer said the timeline is still for the ice arena and dinosaur- and jungle-themed outdoor pool area — the final two phases of the expansion project — to be by sometime in June.

“This is just another indication of how aggressive this community is now,” Steiner said. “People are seeing good things happening and they want to continue to see good things happening. This is going to be really something when it’s finished.”

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Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
(701) 456-1207
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