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JDA seeks information from community

By Staff | Nov 8, 2019

The Rugby Job Development Authority wants to know what Rugby area residents want from their community.

A proposal to plat a plot of land donated by Gary Laughridge for a community center east of Prairie View Estates in Rugby was voted down at a planning and zoning committee meeting late in October.

However, this wasn’t the first time a community center was a topic for discussion in Rugby.

After the idea was brought up a year ago at a community forum at the Rugby armory, Rugby High School instructor Kevin Leier and his class identified a community center as an area they wanted to “generate more information from the community about,” according to a written summary of a survey project they created.

The survey reported 81.7 percent of 279 respondents would support “raising local tax dollars or adding an additional sales tax amount to provide funding for a project such as a multipurpose community center.”

Ideas for the community center with favorable responses included an indoor pool, gym/workout center, event hall, and bowling alley and pool hall/arcade.

Other written responses to the survey suggested including an “arena type facility” in the center.

Possible programs for a multipurpose community center would include 24-hour gym access, adult recreation, youth recreation, swimming activities, community/social support groups and regional events. When asked if a community center would add to the quality of life for area residents, 91.87 percent of respondents answered yes.

Although Rugby Job Development Authority Executive Director Liz Heisey said the agency took “no official position” on a community center, the idea was mentioned in a recent liveability survey the JDA conducted. Heisey said responses to that survey needed clarification and further study.

Heisey said more follow-up surveys to gauge community interest in new facilities and maintaining facilities currently used in Rugby, such as the armory and Rugby pool are being conducted this month.

The current survey, which expires today, will collect opinions on maintaining existing community facilities. Heisey said the survey is only available online due to office staffing limitations.

The survey is available on the Rugby Job Development Authority’s website, Facebook page, or at www.surveymonkey.com/r/9QM5N8C.

“We do have aging infrastructure,” Heisey noted. “The National Guard, one of the reasons they left our community (was) because they were looking at the economic needs of the armory.”

Heisey said the National Guard asked, “Is it more efficient to build a new building or do we keep putting money in this building?”

“They decided to leave,” Heisey said.

Heisey said the armory building has “a nice gym, but it does need work. We held the job fair in there and it doesn’t have air conditioning. Then, we go back and look at our pool. Some of the beams are rusted through. The roof needs replacing. They can’t keep it open year-round because of the cost of heating it.”

“We have so much community support to have a year-round facility that includes the health and wellness of our community.”

This week’s survey asks community members for their opinion on maintaining current facilities. The survey is available for any member of the public.

Heisey said the JDA solicits the information to provide information to area residents and provide insight for local businesses.

“Community development and economic development is not just building jobs. We need to build quality of life,” Heisey said.

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