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Published October 09 2012

Forum editorial: Williston rec center impresses

The city of Williston in the heart of North Dakota’s booming Oil Patch is moving quickly to accommodate rapid change. It has not been easy because the pace of change has been faster than anyone anticipated. But Williston officials and voters are trying to put in place public amenities that will serve a rapidly growing population.

It’s not always about roads and law enforcement. A city that is confronting the challenges of an unprecedented oil boom has to be aware of quality of life factors. In that regard, Williston is stepping up with an ambitious plan to build the largest recreation center in the state. The city conducted groundbreaking ceremonies Monday for a $70 million, 234,000-square-foot building, which will be located on the Williston State College campus. It’s one impressive project.

Not only will the center feature all the expected attractions, such as tennis courts, running track, basketball courts and fitness rooms, it also will house a huge indoor field house and a water park. When completed, it will be the standard for all other North Dakota cities. It will be a one-of-a-kind public space that will be large enough to handle Williston’s expected population growth. Williston did not go hat-in-hand seeking money to build the center. Rather, local voters approved a 1-cent sales tax, with half going to the park district and half going to the building project. The tax will be on the books for 20 years, or fewer years if the building is paid off sooner. Affordable membership fees will help pay the center’s operating expenses.

All in all, it appears to be a well-planned and well-executed project that clearly will fill a need in the oil city. It’s good news for Williston because the project suggests the city is beginning to catch up with the demands of the oil boom.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.

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