City, Parks align vision for sports complex, splash park

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The City of Dickinson and Dickinson Parks & Recreation are working together to bring quality-of-life projects to the city, including a new sports complex and a splash park.

At a special work session Wednesday, Mayor Scott Decker, Parks Director James Kramer, city commissioners and parks staff held a roundtable discussion to align their visions for 2020 and beyond.

"It's better to get everything out in the open and work towards the future," Decker said.

Assistance from the city is crucial, Kramer said, for the department to realize such projects.

Efforts in the past have emphasized new facilities, upgrades to old facilities, infrastructure and attracting new events and programs to Dickinson.


"For example, sticking some money into the baseball park or golf course or community center attracts people from basically all over the state," Kramer said. "It gets them here, they stay overnight, spend money in our community, and it helps everybody."

A key effort for Parks & Recreation is a new sports complex.

A multi-use facility is needed to meet the needs of current user-groups and anticipated growth in the community within the next 3 to 5 years.

Conversations with the user-groups and a public input survey yielded similar responses, said Matt Mack, Parks & Recreation recreation/facilities director.

"There's just going to be challenges with the number of kids in our programs and participating in club sports," he said.

Parks & Recreation would need help from the city in securing space for such a project, Kramer said.

"Depending on how many groups we're going to put out there, that's 40 to 50 acres," he said. "That's a big chunk of property that, for us to get a hold of, is pretty difficult."

For youths who want to play baseball, softball or soccer, there are few areas in town with adequate space accessible by bicycle or on foot.


Decker suggested land that is owned by the city near South Dickinson Fire Training Center.

Its location at Southwest Eighth Street and State Avenue make it accessible, and it's on the way to Heart River Golf Course.

"A lot of people, when you start talking about it, they say, it's on the south side of town, it's not where everyone's moving toward, but in the overall cost, acquiring 40 to 50 acres of land is just not an easy thing and we have over 100 acres as a city," Decker said.

The location would also allow for expansion.

"We know this won't be the end," Decker said. "This is 'this' fix, but eventually there is going to be more if the population continues to grow as it is."

Commissioner Carson Steiner said development of the area could change demographics there, just as the creation of West River Community Center impacted the west side of the city.

Decker encouraged the parks department to consider the area.

"We'll figure out what we have to set aside so we can do some planning at city and see how it fits out there," he said. "I think it would be helpful for us, and you could get some preliminary numbers."


Kramer also advocated creating a splash park, a free playground with water components that would be situated within a neighborhood.

It would not be located at the community center, he noted.

Decker said the department should determine a site for a potential splash park as soon as possible.

A citywide beautification plan for boulevards and city entrances was also proposed.

"Our gateway should look nice when you drive in," Decker agreed.

Kramer provided the city with an overview of the department's Vision 2020 efforts.

The parks board challenged the staff to reevaluate how the department operates.

"Fifteen years ago, our park district had a $1.2 million budget. Now we're $6.2 (million)," he said. "Twelve full-time employees. Now we're just under 30. We've changed a lot in 15 years, and we were operating in the same way."

Departments in Parks & Recreation were revamped and new heads assigned. A future-first committee was also launched.

"That group is identifying things that are out on the edge. They're on the radar, but haven't hit us yet," he said. "Things like medical and recreational marijuana, transgender issues and influx of kindergarten age kids that are going to hit us."

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