Dieterich planning a community recreation center

DIETERICH — Dieterich plans to build a multi-use community recreation center that will offer recreational opportunities for all ages. The concept grew out of a MAPPING session held last fall, where participants identified a lack of recreation opportunities in the community.

The center will sit on 0.86 acres of vacant land at 206 S. Pine Street. The land was donated by Dieterich School District. The village has applied for a grant through the Illinois Park and Recreation Facility Construction Grant Program (PARC) to help fund the center.

The estimated cost is about $2.8 million and the grant application amount was just over $2 million, which is 75% of the cost of the rec center. It does not include funding for the day care that officials want as part of the project.

The village is researching other grant opportunities for the day care.

“What we don’t receive in grant funding we are planning to fund raise for,” said Brittny Gipson, the village clerk and economic development coordinator. “We are optimistic that we will be able to receive grants and enough donations from businesses and individuals to cover the entire cost of the building.”

The center will be a 16,500-square-foot, single-story, multi-use facility open to the public. It will offer several recreation opportunities for all ages and abilities. Gipson said there will be a workout facility with cardio and weight equipment, a two-lane walking track around the gym, and three community rooms to allow for activities such as card and quilting clubs, fitness classes, birthday parties and more.

She noted that it will have one large multi-use court with a retractable dividing curtain that can be converted to two multi-use courts and there will also be portable bleachers.

The courts will be striped for basketball, pickleball and volleyball. Many camps and leagues are planned for sports, including soccer, tennis, basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball.

The center will have an office space for recreation staff and a kitchen/concession area. About 3,180 square feet of this center will occupy a four-room day care facility, with director’s office at the north end of the building.

There will be concrete parking areas on all four sides of the center with Steppe Drive being use for both entrance points to the parking lot. According to Gipson, Steppe Drive is currently a gravel road and will be improved with a concrete surface.

The vacant land south of the center will be a future shared parking lot constructed by Dieterich School District. Planned hours of operation for the center are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

“There are no existing indoor recreation spaces, a clear detriment to Dieterich,” Gipson said. “As we grow, the demand for recreation opportunities for all increases.”

She said rural communities don’t have access to recreation like metropolitan areas. Dieterich officials realize this facility is a much-needed addition, but the village can’t afford it without grant funds.

Gipson said there is no day care facility in Dieterich, which makes that aspect of the center important.

“Including a day care in the same building as the recreation center provides mutual benefits and cost savings to Dieterich,” she said. “Not having to construct a standalone day care facility.”

Gipson said the location for the center is perfect because it’s in the heart of the community.

“Adjacent to the school is ideal for after-school programming for the students, and also makes day care drop-off in the morning so much more convenient for families that have school-age children,” Gipson said.

The close proximity to the school also is ideal for plans to partner with the district for daily lunches.

MAPPING volunteer Brent Bohnhoff said the multipurpose recreational facility has been something the Dieterich community has needed for a long time, especially when it comes to day care, gymnasium, community rooms and workout facility.

“These are all items that myself and others in the community have had needs for that went unmet,” said Brent Bohnhoff.

Two of the top six goals identified in the MAPPING meetings were a day care and recreational center.

“Once identified it was about asking why not Dieterich?” said Brent Bohnhoff. “Of course, there are a lot of reasons that we came up with: We have low population, it costs a lot of money, etc. But those were excuses, not reasons.”

Brent and Charity Bohnhoff believe there is no reason why Dieterich can’t support this facility. Dieterich has seen 40% population growth in the last 10 years.

“Dieterich is a community of determined and involved residents that are proud of our town,” Charity Bohnhoff said. “We had over 100 people attend our community MAPPING meetings.”

Brent Bohnhoff said the facility will be built for all demographics of the population and most everyone can identify with the needs for one of the three uses. For example, the Bohnhoffs are the parents of three young children and have needed day care and been unable to find it at times.

“We have had to look outside of our community to provide that need,” Charity Bohnhoff said. “I know many others that are currently in the same situation and it isn’t just the day care, it’s the same with the gym and workout facility.”

The Bohnhoffs believe the impact the facility will have on the community is immeasurable.

“Look at how the Workman center in Effingham and Neal Center in Toledo have impacted their communities. It brings people together. It builds community and it will drive economic income with the multipurpose building boasting multiple spaces to utilize,” Brent Bohnhoff said.

The Bohnhoffs say they would no doubt utilize the center. They would utilize the day care if their kids weren’t already in school.

“We plan to use the gym for practices and games for our travel basketball teams and we also plan to join the park district programs they have to offer,” Brent Bohnhoff said. “My wife and I are excited to have a workout facility available, too.”