Center remains in tip-top shape

It takes a lot of people and time to keep a facility like Dickinson's West River Community Center clean. And most of the actual work is never seen by the public.

It takes a lot of people and time to keep a facility like Dickinson's West River Community Center clean. And most of the actual work is never seen by the public.

During the recent second annual maintenance week at the community center, the facility staff went through the paces of cleaning the entire facility from top to bottom.

"It's an annual thing that will happen forever," Dickinson Parks and Recreation Director James Kramer said of the maintenance week. "What we're focusing on is getting the building back into shape, but more so looking at what we can do to improve areas that are high maintenance."

Dickinson Parks and Recreation Facilities Operations Manager Bob Faulhaber and his staff put pressure on themselves to keep the facility topnotch, Kramer said.

"What we're learning is this a 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week job to keep this facility clean," he added. "I've never had a call from someone complaining about the cleanliness and that is a direct reflection on the cleaning crews. We hardly hear any upset people."


A job coaching partnership with Community Action has four to six people who come in every day at 10 p.m. when the facility closes to do cleaning, Kramer said. In addition, three full-time and two part-time people dedicated to maintenance assist in keeping the community center in great shape.

The annual maintenance week when the facility shuts down comprises of numerous projects and an annual fire inspection.

One of the most time-consuming projects during the maintenance week was draining the pools, Kramer said. The leisure and lap pools, plus the hot tub, contain a total of 366,000 gallons of water. The areas are then cleaned and sanitized.

"With water, there are areas that are always wet and sanitation is a big issue," Kramer said.

Other major projects during the cleaning week included refinishing floors in the main gym and big aerobics room. Multi-purpose floors on the track, the community room and the small aerobics room also were reconditioned.

Other projects included cleaning carpets, washing windows and replacing light bulbs, as well as tile work in the shower and bathroom areas, Kramer said.

The facility's carpet is wearing much quicker than anticipated, especially in high-traffic areas, and will need replacing, he added.

"If it's starting to wear through, we need to change it, but we're hoping we can make it last another year," Kramer said.


Extensive work on all mechanical systems also is completed while the WRCC is closed. Filters and belts are replaced to ensure everything runs correctly and efficiently.

The cardio fitness equipment is holding up well and required no changing out, Kramer said. The equipment is leased on a five-year contract, he added. The most actively used pieces are the treadmills, step machines and bikes, Kramer said.

"Those are obviously the pieces you don't want sitting around with an out-of-order sign when people come in," he said.

The community center currently runs on a $1.3 million yearly budget, of which $140,000 is allotted for maintenance and repairs, janitorial supplies and contracted services, Kramer said. This amount does not include labor.

A separate line item in the budget is dedicated to equipment replacement. Approximately $25,000 a year is slated for this and the fund currently holds $60,000.

"The only thing we've spent some on is to change out some mechanical equipment that was past warranty," Kramer said of the equipment replacement funds.

The city budgets dollars for bigger articles that need replacing such as windows and doors, and the recreation center takes care of smaller items, Kramer said.

"Looking at the big picture, I think things are holding up fairly well," Kramer said. "We haven't run into anything that's a big maintenance issue."


Faulhaber tries to maintain equipment and keep parts on hand for the things that normally go out "so we can put them back on line as quickly as possible," Faulhaber said.

Faulhaber also does a good job at doing preventative maintenance and has a very organized plan to keep things moving, Kramer added.

The next area to be addressed is directly around and under the water slides where the sheetrock is showing wear and tear, Kramer said. The space will be refinished with a type of surface that will shed water better, he added.

A project for a couple years down the road is an outside water park. This area will not physically be connected to the WRCC and is slated to be between the playground on the southwest lawn of the community center and the indoor water slides, Kramer said.

Kramer added the process of determining when, where and how everything will fall into place still needs to occur, as well as looking at how the water park might affect parking and user fees.

"As we move forward, we see that the pool addition is something that's in our two- to three-year plan," Kramer said.

The overall facility, meanwhile, remains a topic of conversation in the parks and recreation profession, Kramer said.

"We continue to strive to keep the facility a focal point of Dickinson and southwestern North Dakota," he added.

What To Read Next
Get Local