Editor's note: According to City Administrator Ty Wheeler, a budget has not yet been projected for the project because it is still in the earliest stages of planning. Keep your eye out for future articles for more information.
A recreation center for the people of Osceola is quickly becoming a reality thanks to a new non-profit called “Operation Recreation.”
In 2016, Clarke County was ranked 98 out of 99 Iowa counties1 when it comes to health, and Osceola’s Mayor Thomas Kedley is taking the initiative to change that. Mayor Kedley credits the recreation center in Clinton Iowa with saving his own life as a young man and he wants the people of Osceola to have that same opportunity.
As it stands, city recreation activities like league basketball and league volleyball share space in the Clarke Community Schools. The gyms at the schools are in use nearly all day, every day, all year long which causes an undue amount of wear and tear on the school’s facilities. There is a constant shuffling between middle school and high school practices and games and city rec activities and children aren’t allowed to be in the gym without school supervision.
“We’re quickly growing out of what the school can offer,” says Mayor Kedley. “The city is working hard to improve area trails and parks, but Operation Recreation will help Osceola fill the need of all residents to have a place available year-round for learning healthy habits and for families to be active together.”
In an effort to improve the quality of life for Osceola residents and to draw more families and businesses to the city, the Osceola Parks & Recreation Board has been working closely with City Administrator Ty Wheeler, Mayor Kedley and others to create the best plan for a Recreation Center the whole community can use. Operation Recreation is a non-profit foundation created with the sole purpose of building this rec center through public fundraising efforts and grants. The Foundation's Board already has several grant requests in process and has been in contact with "Let's Move!" through the Obama Foundation2.
Mayor Kedley and his wife, Becca, also made a video for a grant contest through "A Community Thrives"3 to help fund construction. In this program, the video proposal with the most votes wins grant awards ranging from $50,000 to $100,000. You can view their video submission by going to the link referenced below. Voting for the "A Community Thrives" video entries starts April 12th. Supporters can share the link and vote as often as possible.
Through the efforts of Operation Recreation, and in conjunction with the city of Osceola, the construction on the Rec Center, with council approval, hopes to start in 2018.
Some features to be included in the new Recreation Center include: An oversized gym with full-sized basketball courts
2 youth cross-courts for rec level tournaments
3 volleyball courts
An elevated walking/running track
A Racquetball court
A weight room combined with a fitness room
"There's simply no reason the citizens of Osceola shouldn't have year around access to a full quality of life," said Kedley. "A rec center will also entice more families to put down roots right here in Osceola and help further Osceola's health and wellness initiative."
If you would like to make a donation to Operation Recreation or would like to learn more about the foundation activities, please contact City Administrator Ty Wheeler by email at email@example.com or by calling City Hall at 641-342-2377. You can also contact Mayor Kedley directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 563-249-1330.
1: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps "Overall Rank" – http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/app/iowa/2016/rankings/outcomes/overall
2: The Obama Foundation – https://www.obama.org/
3: A Community Thrives – Operation Recreation Donation Video by Thomas and Becca Kedley - http://act.usatoday.com/submit-an-idea/#/gallery/60369031