Facility Profile - February 2004
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Rural Rec Center with an Urban Flair

All Seasons Recreation Center
Sioux Center, Iowa

Who says a small town can't think big? Not the residents of Sioux Center, Iowa. This northwestern Iowa town of 6,300 residents now boasts a recreation center with an indoor aquatic center and ice arena that can stand up to that of any affluent suburb.

Opened in June, the town's All Seasons Recreation Center shows that with commitment, creative planning and partnering with other public bodies, a rural community can offer residents the same recreational amenities as its urban counterparts.

Like many new centers, the idea for All Seasons began with the quandary of replacing an aging facility. Sioux Center's indoor pool had reached the end of its life after 30 years. But rather than a straight replacement, the city forged a partnership between with the park district and Dort College, the area's community college located in Sioux Center, to offer a more extensive recreation facility. They also pursued and received matching funds from the state's Vision Iowa program.

Equally importantly, about one-third of the funds were donated by the community.

"This is a proud community," says Brandon Klement, All Seasons facilities director. "People wanted to provide activities for their youth and their family and realized that it might cost a little more, but it will draw a ton of people to Sioux Center, too."

With that in mind, the facility also was designed to attract 35,000 people who live within a 45-minute drive of the town, Klement says.

"It's kind of a 'If you build it they will come' thing," says Steve Wohlford, project architect for Ankeny Kell Associates in Minneapolis, the center's designers. "The bigger we made it, the fancier we made it, the more we could rely on a greater population."

At 60,000 square feet, All Seasons offers plenty of recreation space for residents, with flexible space and expansion options built in. Its indoor ice arena features a National Hockey League regulation-size ice sheet built atop concrete rather than sand, with permanent seating for 600 people and space to expand to 1,2000 seats with temporary bleachers. The ice arena began service in September and will run through April. Then, the concrete floor makes it easy to melt the ice layer and use the air-conditioned space for large events: Klement already has booked the space for a sportsmen's gathering and a regional home show, with the possibility even for horse shows or livestock expos.

Interestingly, that possibility of large animals occupying the space wrought the only designs that differentiate All Seasons from a suburban facility, Wohlford notes. The arena area features heavy-duty exhaust capabilities to vent strong aromas, if necessary, and a large direct-access overhead door can accommodate trailers or recreational vehicles.

The ice arena may eventually operate year-round if the budget allows for the added cost, Klement adds, as the hockey and skating clubs—new to the area—grow in popularity.

Along with the ice arena, All Seasons features an extensive indoor aquatic area, including a competition-size, six-lane lap pool; a plunge pool with two waterslides; a whirlpool spa; zero-depth pool; and a splash play area anchored by a play station designed by KoalaPlay Group, with a slide, water jets and play platforms, along with bubble jets on the floor. Four additional 'tap' areas allow for future play area expansion, Wohlford says.

Throughout the facility, from the pool areas through locker rooms, Sioux Center's planners chose quality over quantity, figuring that they wanted the best finishes possible to attract enough people to make the center financially feasible, Wohlford says. Among the resulting higher-end finishes are quality tile and decking materials in the locker rooms and pool areas as well as a high-tech environmental control system to monitor and adjust the pool chemistry precisely, keeping the air free of chlorine.

Above the locker rooms, a 4,000-square-foot mezzanine level space remains unfinished, giving the city the opportunity to add a party room, conference space or fitness center over time.

All Seasons' outdoor area features the same up-to-date splash play features, along with a clever three-level design to separate the areas favored by younger children from the deeper pool occupied by older kids. The top level incorporates a 2,500-square-foot zero-depth pool and a 1,000-square-foot wet deck, whose rubber surface includes a number of pop jets, along with stations for adding more play features in the future. Running along the edge of the wet deck is a 42-inch concrete wall with a water trough, spilling over onto the 5-foot-deep pool below.

While designing a facility for a rural area didn't pose much of a problem, finding contractors experienced in tricky waterpark and ice arena construction could have been an issue, Wohlford says. To assure a smooth installation, Ankeny Kell and Sioux Center were able to pre-bid the pool equipment, pool structures, and the ice arena system and equipment in advance of the general contractor. That allowed them to lock in those costs early and then assign the chosen firms as part of the package during bidding for a general contractor. As a result, general contractor Hoogendoorn Construction Inc. of Canton, S.D., knew it would be working with two experienced pool and ice firms, Associated Pool of Bismark, N.D., and Rink-Tec of Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., with proven track records on installations.

The finished product has proven that thinking big was smart thinking on the part of Sioux Center's planners.

For more information
Sioux Center, Iowa:

Ankeny Kell Associates: