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Outdoor pool possible for West River Community Center in Dickinson by mid-summer

If all goes according to plan, Dickinson residents could be swimming in a new outdoor pool and water park by the Fourth of July.

In the first of three public input meetings regarding the expansion and remodeling of the West River Community Center in Dickinson, officials on Wednesday laid out plans and took questions from a handful of citizens regarding the makeover. The community center and Dickinson Recreation Center are planned to go through changes in the coming years, including the addition of an outdoor pool to the west of the community center.

"If we have last year's winter, Fourth of July could be achievable (as an opening date for the outdoor pool)," West River Expansion Committee chairman Scott Karsky said.

Other factors include funding coming through and lining up contractors, which if all falls into place, could have construction beginning this fall, he said.

But a later date next summer is more realistic.

Construction on the rec and community centers would most likely begin spring 2013.

The three projects are projected to cost $15 million combined, with $6 million going to the community center, $5 million to the rec center, which houses the city's hockey programs, and the remaining $4 million to build the outdoor pool, Karsky said. The money will come mostly from taxes and fundraising.

The projects are in the conceptual design and funding stages.

The West River Community Center was built with the idea of serving 1,750 members, he said. As of July the facility served 6,179 members and use counts average 1,000 people each day.

Usage will be minimally interrupted during construction, Dickinson Parks and Recreation Director James Kramer said.

"In the original design and construction of the facility, these things were all discussed," he said.

The second sheet of ice planned for the rec center will not only allow for more skating, but will also bring in more trade shows like Pride of Dakota, Karsky said.

The basketball courts will be moved into the addition to allow for more room for cardio and weight equipment, he said.

Responding to a concern of Dickinson School Board President Kris Fehr, Kramer and Karsky said the courts are for patron use, not to compete with the schools for tournament space, unless needed for overflow.

Outdoor pools in continental climates, especially those in North Dakota, never cover their operating costs, Kramer said. Because the use of the outdoor pool and water park will be tied in with a full membership, it could cover its expenses.

"You add $15, $20, (to an annual membership) whatever that may be, we may have the first pool that covers its expenses in North Dakota," he said.

There will be two more public input meetings. The first is 7 p.m. Monday at the community center and the second is 6 p.m. Sept. 5 at Dickinson City Hall.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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