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Allen Community College Recreation Center – Community Survey

Allen Community College is planning a new Recreation Center, which will include a 200 meter indoor track and a turf in-field. Some in the community would like to see the city or county partner with the college so that this facility could also include an indoor pool. Is this our chance for a community Recreation Center or should the other municipalities stay out of the plans?”

February 28, 2020 – The above question was asked on our Facebook page in hopes of getting the public’s opinion on a recreation center.   I am one that did not have strong feelings on this subject. I can see both sides of the issue, but what is most important to me is that when big decisions are on the table, an effort is made to hear from the people of our great community.  We are always going to hear from the cheerleaders and the strong critics, but the average person many times stays silent.  As someone that has been involved in big public decisions over the years, I have seen the roller coaster of emotion that can be fueled by conversations with a few people.  A survey is not a perfect tool, I’ve done many over the years and am yet to create one without wishing I would have asked a different question, or phrased a question differently.  The reality is, survey’s can be revealing, and although a small sample of the population, a much bigger sample than any of us can provide on our own.  Thanks to the 465 people in Allen County that were willing to take this survey, we had a good turn out.

First, let me explain in detail what is currently on the table.  Allen Community College is fulfilling a 5 year strategic plan which includes the goal of building a 200 Meter Indoor track with a turf infield.  As they have gotten closer and closer to the design phase of this project, many in the public have recommended that ACC partner with others in hopes that an indoor pool could be included, if not other recreation facilities as well.  ACC agreed to host a meeting with the public and to listen to listen to Allen County citizens.  Their message was that they are open to having partners, but the college knows their needs and budget well.  If the community wants more than they can provide on their own, others would need to come to the table to help.  ACC’s willingness to listen and entertain the public’s input is admirable, whether the scope of the project changes is out of their hands.  Several other entities have been identified as potential partners;  Allen County, City of Iola, St. Lukes, the National Guard, and private donations to name a few.  Who and how much potential is yet to be determined, but with ACC’s financial commitment, this is an opportunity that should not be taken lightly.  Whether the right opportunity includes a full sized pool, or even a much smaller pool for therapeutic needs is a possibility. Perhaps a racquetball court or other much smaller price tag facilities could be considered.

When you are involved with community decisions, listening to tax payers, and holding public meetings is difficult.  It slows the project down considerably and adds a lot of criticism to the project, even if just from a select few.  But, this is the healthiest way to make decisions that impact us all and the fairest way.  Thank you to the college for listening with an open mind, and thank you to everyone that participated in this survey. Whether your opinion agrees or disagrees with these results or your friends/neighbors opinions, embrace them as it represents the freedom and value we all share equally.  I, for one, love diversity and am grateful that we do not all think a like.

Click link below to see the complete results.

Ryan Sparks, President
Grow Iola

Click link for survey results.