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Joint meeting introduces idea of possible rec center at SCCC



By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times



EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final story in a series of stories recapping Wednesday’s joint meeting between the Liberal City Commission and Seward County Commission. Today’s story deals with the possibility of a new recreation center in Liberal.


A new recreational center is something people in Liberal have been wanting for quite some time now, and a discussion at Wednesday’s joint meeting between city commissioners and Seward County commissioners pushed that wish closer to reality.

With new schools being built in Liberal, the building that housed South Middle School for many years has been in the talks of those wanting to find a location for the rec center.

Mayor Joe Denoyer said conversations concerning the SMS building have gone as far back as the previous USD No. 480 superintendent, and those discussions continue with current superintendent Renae Hickert.

Like most, Denoyer believes the community needs a rec center, but after a recent feasibility study, issues have come to light with the SMS building which could take it out of the equation.

“Roof repairs are going to be essential,” he said. “I believe water came into the gym area which I believe is the newest part in this last rain. There’s the problem with the air conditioning. Some of the air conditioning units are going out. You’ve got to look at staffing, the cost of maintenance, the cost of keeping the lights on, keeping it heated, keeping it air conditioned.”

Denoyer said another viable option exists at Seward County Community College, an option he had discussed with SCCC President Dr. Ken Trzaska, and Trzaska talked about that opportunity as well as what the college is doing to bring more recreational choices to Liberal.

“We’re looking at a possible collaboration on a current project, where maybe we can incorporate an aspect of a recreational center in partnership with the college to better serve not only our youth, but our students and broader community,” he said. “There’s a lot more discussion around that, but I think the really important thing about these types of discussion is we’re planting a seed which could lead to something powerful for our community for generations to come.”

Trzaska did not give any other details about the project, but he later discussed some of what SCCC is doing to bring more recreation to the community.

“We’ve applied for a number of state level grants and now looking at more philanthropic organizations to build a trail system, which we really focus on being a connection opportunity with our community,” he said. “We’ve received a couple of grants. We’ve just re-applied for a couple of more, and we’ve started some discussions looking at a bike loop all the way around the city of Liberal.”

Trzaska said SCCC’s piece of Liberal’s economic puzzle is just as important as any other.

“As a community college, we have just as much of a responsibility to drive economic growth in this community as an Applebee’s or a new Old Chicago or new hotels,” he said. 

Denoyer said everyone needs to keep an eye on the big picture, and he explained his philosophy when it comes to that.

“It’s the same pair of pants, just a different pocket,” he said. “We’re all in this together, and the more we can work together, the better it’s going to be for everybody.”

Nothing is set in stone at this time, and Denoyer said work will continue, adding teamwork needs to be part of the effort to make something happen.

“There are other options out there,” he said. “We need to explore all options and work together for something good.”

 

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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