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City begins exploring possibility of rec center

The City of Tea has begun looking at the possibility of building a recreation center.

“With the coming construction of a new exit at 85th Street, we are really trying to supercharge growth in that area,” said Mayor Casey Voelker. “A project like this has the potential to capitalize on the massive and growing sports tourism industry, attract new business to Tea, and will provide the added benefit of contributing to the quality of life for Tea families through health and wellness opportunities.” 

The city was approached by the Orthopedic Institute about the possibility of the city building an indoor recreation center west of OI’s new facility being built near the water tower along the interstate. The city is negotiating with a group of doctors that own some property in that area. They are looking at 15 acres.

City councilman Lynn DeYoung said they are currently estimating a 127,000 square foot indoor recreation space. However, a study from Pinnacle will help determine the space needs.

“For our community, it’s going to be activities for all ages. That’s one thing we know this community is all about small little guys and girls all the way up to grandmas and grandpas. Everyone wants to stay active,” he said.

One of the goals of the proposed rec center is to allow for community use for all ages.

“We realize we don’t make money with our park and rec. It’s for quality of life. People come to communities for quality of life stuff,” DeYoung said. “This will be a community enhancement through park and rec, but we also realize that we probably as a community need to benefit from it like tournaments so all the other businesses feel this effect.”

They hired Pinnacle to do a study that will help determine the size and scope. They expect the study to be completed by about April 1. The market study will define the city’s needs, the impacts it will have and a budget. 

The study will look at the community needs as well as the potential for sports tourism. They know turf indoor practice areas are hard to come by. 

The council approved a tax increment finance district for that property at a special meeting on Oct. 23. DeYoung said they pursued a TIF based on consultations with economic development people. The TIF will last for 20 years. Any dollars the TIF generates can go toward the city’s economic development projects.

“We’re just in the exploration phase. The council’s pretty on board with this right now but this is dependent on the development out there. If the development doesn’t happen the way we think, then we don’t have any dollars to put inside the center. We want to use those TIF dollars,” DeYoung said.

They want additional development in that area like hotels, a brewery, nice restaurants, retail, lodging and health and wellness.

“This all goes back to our community, our kids, quality of life. Some of the members like to say we build really nice roads, now we need to do some quality of life stuff. We think that’s what our community would support,” he said.

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