City officials and parks and recreation committees are lobbying for community and University of South Dakota student support in the Nov. 4 election in an effort to make Prentis Park renovations possible by passing a measure that would allow the city to take out a $3.1 million bond for the project.
Since 2011, the city has been accumulating ideas and making plans for what first started out as an update to the pool. Jim Goblirsch, the parks and recreation director, took the position over a year ago and decided to look at the bigger picture.
In addition to the pool update, Goblirsch said Prentis Park is aged and an all around renovation is needed. Among many of the possibilities, Goblirsch mentioned plans to work on the basketball courts, add interior parking, the area around the caretaker house and sidewalks as a few of the other main issues at hand.
“It’s not an easy process to put the puzzle together,” Goblirsch said. “It’s a balancing act between what we want and what we can afford.”
The pool committee will hold a number of open houses throughout the month to be available to community members for questions. The first meeting is slated for Friday at Vermillion Light and Power from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Initially in 2011, the city put together a pool committee which surveyed parts of the community to see what people would like to see included. From that process, the committee had a lot to decide from.
“I’m working with a variety of other community members to provide input to the city council about what it is that we need and would like to see, in terms of specifically the pool component,” said Shane Nordyke, a USD political science professor who is on the committee.
Nordyke was asked by John Prescott, city manager, to be part of the group after she attended an informational meeting regarding the renovation plans this summer.
Not only did Nordyke go to the meeting seeking information on the topic, but she also wanted to “be a voice of young families in Vermillion and hear about what was happening.” She has two children, ages 9 and 3, but she said the committee isn’t considering the desires of merely one age group in the planning.
“That’s one of the things we’ve tried to keep in mind in developing plans is to make sure that we’re meeting needs of all segments of the community… with the one pool design,” Nordyke said.
Junior USD student Nancy Fregoso is a member of Alpha Xi Delta, and lives across the street from Prentis Park. At home in Sioux City, Iowa, Fregoso is a frequent visitor of parks and goes to Prentis Park an average of two times a week.
Before she knew what was in the overall renovation plan, Fregoso said several ways the park could be improved is with additional parking and more activities to draw younger kids there.
“Our parks (in Sioux City) are quadruple that size,” Fregoso said. “There are also probably three parks (in Sioux City) that have water parks inside of them. That’s a great way to get kids to go there.”
After finding out what is planned to change if the Vermillion community members pass the bond in the November election, she said she was impressed with the possible progress of the park.
“What they are doing is a good step in the right direction,” Fregoso said.
Regardless of whether USD students live on or off campus, Nordyke said they are a vital part of the community.
“The students provide a diversity of ideas and perspectives that are important to the overall viability of Vermillion and the life that Vermillion has,” Nordyke said. “Vermillion wouldn’t be what it is without USD and its students here.”
Nordyke challenged students to take an active role by becoming informed, participating in movements such as the Prentis Park renovation plans, especially because they are able to bring something new to the discussion.
“I think the students play a role in helping to keep Vermillion vibrant and to think about future ideas,” she said. “That’s a really important role students play, and they should embrace that role and embrace that voice they have in the community… because they are a key component of what makes Vermillion a great place to be.”
(The Coombs family walks through Prentis Park Monday afternoon. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)