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WRCC expansion needed sooner rather than later

The public has a few more chances to weigh in on the expansion of the West River Community Center, the Dickinson Recreation Center and the creation of an outdoor pool and water park before the Dickinson City Commission makes a final decision.

At its regular meeting Monday, the Commission held a public hearing to receive comments for and against the three projects.

"In my opinion, we need to proceed as quickly as possible on all three of these, on the entire West River expansion project," said said Scott Karsky, chairman of the West River Expansion Committee. "Our community deserves it and we need to move forward."

No one spoke against any of the projects, but that has been the norm since the projects were announced late last summer.

"When I'm asked about this project I'm not questioned on whether we should do this, however, when we're going to get going on this," said Mike Lefor, president of the Dickinson Board of Park Commissioners.

He said there has been a "great deal of frustration on the part of some community members" in regard to the outdoor pool, lack of ice time for hockey teams at the Rec Center and wait times for cardio and free weight equipment at the WRCC.

Registration at the WRCC is more than three times what the facility was designed for, and the Rec Center is booked solid for most of the year, Lefor said.

"Our last outdoor pool was closed a few years ago, and to the dismay of many people who now travel as far away as Beulah, New England and even Bismarck for an outdoor pool," Karsky said. "The pool committee's been extremely active for many years raising funds and gaining support for this committee."

When the last pool closed, federal standards dictated that the city would have to put roughly $100,000 into a new filtration system to keep it running, Lefor said. Even with that investment, the park department was not sure if the pool would continue to function.

"All of these facilities are key to the recruitment and retention process in our community," he said. "It helps sell people to come to Dickinson and ultimately stay in Dickinson."

The Park Board will hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. Monday at the WRCC about the expansion projects.

The Commission will hold one more public hearing about the projects at its regular meeting on April 15, Commission President Dennis Johnson said.

"I think at that time, at the conclusion of that public hearing, the Commission would be ready to act," he 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.  
(701) 456-1206