Feature Article - July 2010
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Try That on for Size

Small Communities Take On Big Recreation Amenities

By Jessica Royer Ocken

Go Green

Green design is a popular topic in all sorts of circles these days, but creating a "healthy building" particularly makes sense for health-focused facilities. Health and recreation facilities in all sorts of sizes are choosing environmentally friendly construction, Panza said.

"If it's related to education or fitness, there's more of a correlation with wanting to be environmentally conscious," he said.

And the benefits of green design are not just for the earth, they're also for those who will use your facility.

The SoNo Field House opted for eco-friendly artificial turf to avoid any controversy over toxic dust or runoff into the water table. Other eco-friendly and all-around healthy choices include selecting recycled materials and low-VOC paints, as well as designing systems to use less electricity and oil. And, if you opt for an open-air, light-filled design, you'll be green before you know it. The more natural light you let in, the less you'll need artificial lights.

Whatever green options you incorporate, be sure to let the public know. Your current constituents will be thrilled, and you might gain a few new ones as well.

Accent Your Assets

Stand tall and flaunt what you've got!

As you know, there are many great things about being a smaller community.

Part of what helps Sioux Falls in its quest to host national sports tournaments is the conveniently sized city.

"In 10 or 15 minutes you can get across town," Kearney said. "In a larger city that can be more difficult. You might have an hour drive from one place to another."

Sioux Falls' smaller size also contributes to its close-knit community and lower crime rate.

"We think of it as a very family-friendly atmosphere," Kearney said, adding that during tournaments the city sets up Sherman Park (which houses the main softball complex) for "one-stop shopping" with an assortment of vendors, sports photographers and snacks on site.

"There's no reason to have to leave," he said.

Even as it reaches out to the area around it via its fabulous community park, the city of Forney is very keen on keeping its unique heritage in ranching and farming alive. The park's décor and design motif pays tribute to the history of Forney—from the barn-style pavilion buildings, which honor the hay industry that helped put Forney on the map, to the Pink Elephant diner building, which houses concessions and restrooms and is modeled after a popular Forney hangout from the 1930s and 1940s.

"I think [preserving the town's history] was important to me, since I grew up here," Curry said. "From 2005 to 2008 Forney was one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, and we still probably are, though the economy has slowed us down.

"[When that happens] a small town starts losing its identity. I wanted to make sure the people moving in knew the origin of Forney and its history," he said, "as well as those who have lived here quite awhile."