Possible recreation center offers new amenities for Brookings community

Brookings residents will decide the fate of the proposed recreation center on April 12, which may cost upwards of $18 million.

In previous weeks, two meetings have been held by city council to help determine the location and layout of the center. If passed, up to $18 million will be raised by Brookings residents by increasing property taxes. If needed, another $5 million could come from the second penny fund, making the budget a total of $23 million. 

Some homeowners in town have expressed concern.

“I know Brookings wants something, but it looks to homeowners to pay the way,” said Joe Pikul, Brookings resident.

Estimations show the proposed recreation center will be around 150,000 square feet, approximately the size of the Sanford Jackrabbit Athletic Complex. The main uses of the facility would be for indoor soccer, basketball and tennis. Other features could include meeting spaces, racquetball courts and an indoor pool.

While the city council is trying to determine the specifics, the resolution to bring the recreation center to town will not have as many details. Brookings residents can participate in an opt-out vote for a resolution to bring the facility to town April 12. It needs a 50 percent majority to pass.

The resolution will only include that the taxpayers are willing to support the facility up to $18 million. Brookings Mayor Tim Reed said the purpose for this is to make sure the center is built.

“We’ve got to keep this project moving forward,” Reed said. “We could lose a lot of money with construction costs going up and lose momentum.”

Currently, there are two primary locations for the center. Fishback Soccer Complex was an original idea because of the indoor soccer fields that could be implemented. If the center is built on the lot, it would go on top of two to three soccer fields that already exist on the south side of the park. The outdoor fields would then be replaced northeast of the park. 

The other location in consideration is the Wiese Property in Brookings. The property is on 32nd Avenue and northwest of the Swiftel Center and Larson Ice Arena. It was originally purchased by the city in 1994 for a research park. 

While there are concerns for the two different locations, city council is not determining anything yet. 

“My number one goal is to get this facility done,” Reed said. “I’m not going to get married to a spot so we could do this.”

The council will begin educating the public on details of the facility March 1 and will then decide on a location by March 18.

While it is not officially determined whether or not the recreation center will come to town, there are limited indoor courts and spaces, and they are in demand. While the Wellness Center tries to fill that space, Students’ Association President Caleb Finck feels the proposed recreation center could fill the gaps.

“They [the recreation center] will have things we don’t have,” Finck said. He said the recreation center would be a good addition for things like intramural basketball and other tournaments.

City councilors estimate the use of the facility would be 75 percent community and 25 percent visitor use. Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Wermedal feels the recreation center will be a good thing for students, especially those off campus. 

“Some students are going to want a community connection and not come back to campus. Variety is important in the lives of students,” Wermedal said.

Wermedal said the city takes SDSU into account with decisions that they make, and they cooperate well.

“The city and the campus have been effective partners for decades,” Wermedal said. “There’s just so many, many instances of city and campus cooperation that I would not expect this rec center if it comes to fruition and our wellness center when it is expanded to be anything but both good assets to city and campus. We do not compete with each other.”