Events, activities center would be good for all of us

Thursday, August 24, 2006

We have something we can sink our teeth into now, and it should leave a good taste in our mouths.

An artist's rendition of a proposed events and activity center at McCook Community College is far from a final plan, the cost estimates of $10.5-$10.9 million are just that, estimates, and the McCook City Council has yet to completely sign off on the use of part of Kelley Park.

But the preliminary concepts presented to the Mid Plains Board of Governors on Wednesday night bode well for the future of McCook Community College and McCook itself.

True Hall is an exciting place to watch a close basketball or volleyball game. It's an historic venue and it's been well kept up, including new lights in the gym this year.

But let's face it; it's a liability for recruiting the best possible athletes. It doesn't take much to fill it up to the rafters -- and MCC athletics have the potential to attract many more fans.

The proposed 63,415 square-foot facility, located just north of the current MCC campus and west of the McCook municipal swimming pool, would be a major enhancement for what is perhaps the most beautiful junior college campus in the state.

The building would include a gymnasium with seating for approximately 2,000 spectators, locker rooms, offices with a conference room, a lobby, concessions and commons area, weight training facility, cardiovascular and aerobics areas, classrooms, auxiliary gym and parking on the east and west sides of the building.

As Mid-Plains Community College Area officials are quick to point out, nothing has been approved yet, and many hurdles must be cleared before any earth is moved.

The architects and board subcommittees must decide exactly how much and what kind of space is needed to enhance college programs in McCook.

For weary McCook taxpayers, who will be paying off a new water treatment plant for the next three decades, and who will soon be asked to foot the bill for a combined city/county public safety center and jail, the idea of a new $11 million project may seem like too much right now.

But it is good to remember that the facility would be an investment by the entire Mid-Plains Community College area in a project which would have specific, special benefits for the McCook community itself. And, if previous MCC campus projects are any guide, private funding is sure to play a part.

Our junior college, the first in the state, has helped keep McCook on the map. Anything that will truly enhance local educational opportunities at McCook Community College is worth the effort and expense.

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