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Rec Center, WRCC proceed with expansion

Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative Architecture Senior Principal Brian Beckler, left, addresses a crowd of community leaders at an informational meeting about the West River Community Center and Dickinson Recreational Center expansions at the Heart River Retreat in Dickinson on Monday. The projects, which include adding an outdoor pool and another sheet of ice to the grounds, will cost around $20 million when complete.

It's full steam ahead for expansion of the West River Community Center and Dickinson Recreation Center.

At an informational meeting at the Heart River Retreat on Monday afternoon, community leaders met to discuss bids and funding for the creation of an outdoor pool, second sheet of ice at the Rec Center and an addition to WRCC.

"If you look at the age sector that's going to be affected the most, the 25 to 44, those are the age of people who predominately use our facilities and programs," Dickinson Parks and Recreation Director James Kramer said. "As we look at this demographic, that 25 to 44, and what that's going to do (in population projections based on 'Dickinson 2035: Roadmap to the Future') we look at the park district and we need to prepare and plan for that."

The project, which began as three separate efforts, is estimated to cost more than $17 million without bid alternatives, which are parts of the renovation that can be done at a later date. The project is closer to $20 million when those aspects added in.

"We're still investigating what that bid packaging looks like," Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction Senior Design Phase Manager Greg Huber said. "It might be a couple different or one single bid package with multiple contract categories, depending on the evolution of the design, how fast fundraising goes and how fast we get through schematic design."

The outdoor pool was planned when the WRCC was designed, and much of the infrastructure needed for a pool is in place, Kramer said. The north side of the structure was also built with the idea that the building would need expansion.

"In the discussions at the original planning of the building we talked about, OK, if we're five, six years down the road and we need to grow, what direction are we going to go," he said. "That is why the building is somewhat constructed so that you can expand in any direction."

If the budget allows, there will be more exterior continuity between the buildings on the property, Denver-based Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative Architecture Senior Principal Brian Beckler said.

"In terms of some of the materials, some of the masonry, some of the stone, will just ... it's probably going to be a little simplified compared to the existing Community Center," he said. "A lot of the character and color and material palette we're going to try to emulate."

WRCC membership rates will be increasing, Kramer said, but they were scheduled to go up at the beginning of 2013. Dickinson Parks and Recreation decided hold off on rate increases until it knows more of the impact the projects will have, which will likely be spring 2013.

"We've run some numbers based on the membership and, surprisingly, you're talking single dollars, you're not talking $10, $15, $20 a membership, you're talking $7, $8, $9 to cover the operating costs," Kramer said.

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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