Aquatic Center, Community Center could merge into one-stop rec shop.
There is promise in combining a proposed Storm Lake Aquatic Center project with a potential Community Recreation Center development, according to Mayor Jon Kruse.
"The possibility of putting the two projects together is being really looked at," Kruse said. "If it works out to have the elements of a community center, rec center, aquatic center, and possibly an indoor pool all go together, it would make sense. People could go to one place to access all of these family activities," he said, adding that construction efficiencies might also be achieved by combining the Storm Lake projects.
Other city leaders have seen the potential in combining an aquatic center and a rec center. Original plans to bring the plan for a large aquatic center to the council this season have been slowed purposely in order to allow the mayor's rec center task force to look into the possibility of combining projects, says City Administrator John Call. The aquatic center, which would replace the city's aging pool, has been planned by a separate committee.
Kruse said that he thinks a parcel of land owned by the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center, near the Fitness & Health Center off Highway 7, would be large enough to hold both a rec center and an aquatic center in one project, but added that his committee has several other sites still to evaluate.
Kruse said he isn't yet certain when his group may have a solid plan to take to the public and the city council.
The rec center committee meets next week to begin trying to pinpoint what services may be drawn into a plan. "Do we need both an indoor and an outdoor pool? That's up to the people of Storm Lake; I'm not the one to decide," Kruse said. "There are some needs for an indoor pool. The university opens theirs to the community, but the accessibility there is really not very much."
From the public and his committee, Kruse is hearing desires on a more modern pool and an easily accessible family fitness area. There is some concern that even with all of the school building gymnasiums in Storm Lake, available gym space is limited, he said.
Also being evaluated is the potential for multipurpose space. While it hasn't been decided whether a senior citizens center would be included in the rec center proposal, a healthy multipurpose space and a kitchen could make that a possibility if the seniors desire it, Kruse said. "Quite frankly, I'm hearing from some seniors that they are not very happy. There are some parking concerns and other issues with their present site, and if we could have the ability to meet their needs, we should look at that."
The committee is also starting to take a preliminary look at possible funding for such a major project. They are concerned that with the state's budget crisis, the Vision Iowa/CAT Fund program could dry up before Storm Lake has a chance to tap into the cultural and tourism funding.
The extent of taxpayer expense would depend on the scope of the project, and whether grants or other funding streams could be found. "It is probably going to take a significant private contribution, too," Kruse said.
The mayor is satisfied that the discussions toward an aquatic center and rec center are progressing.
"We are moving ahead, and I expect things will come together reasonably soon," he said Friday. "It seems like we have been talking in general terms about these developments for a long time now, and it's time to pull it together. I think we're ready for that now."