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Tiffin in exploration phase for future rec complex

Evaluating possibilities with Diamond Dreams and Shive-Hattery
The City of Tiffin is exploring possibilities for a future recreation complex with Diamond Dreams Sports Academy, of Coralville, and Shive-Hattery. A community survey is being put together to better understand residents' needs from a rec complex, which could be constructed as soon as three years from now. According to the City of Tiffin Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), GO bonds of $5 million have been allotted for the development of a rec complex for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

TIFFIN– A recreation complex could be in Tiffin’s near future. The city has begun the exploratory phase of shaping what is sure to be a fixture of the growing community.
Discussion took off with an Aug. 28 city council meeting, in which Kyle Sherman, owner/operator of Diamond Dreams Sports Academy, offered a presentation. Seeking a new location, the Coralville-based company pitched a recreation complex that would partner with Tiffin, providing a site map and phasing plan for a proposed facility. Doug Bottorf, team leader/civil engineer for Shive-Hattery Inc. assisted in the presentation. Discussion continued during the council’s Oct. 2 meeting.
Envisioned in the middle of the 116-acre Anderson Addition of northern Tiffin, the proposed complex would be utilized by Diamond Dreams, Carew Wrestling and the Iowa City Kickers soccer club, catering to local recreation wrestling programs, volleyball, basketball, football, soccer, baseball and softball.
Preliminary plans for the approximately 24,000 square-foot center included a space for indoor soccer and baseball tournaments, three basketball courts, a weight room, potential for a six-lane pool, an elevated indoor running track of about 10 laps per mile, an enclosed area for fitness classes and upper-level rooms overseeing the gymnasium. The Diamond Dreams portion of the facility would include batting cages and a pitching area. The concept strives for a facility comparable to Bettendorf’s TBK Bank Sports Complex, also referred to as the BettPlex.
According to the council presentation, the square footage could be doubled with community growth. For reference, Mount Pleasant has a 36,000 square-foot center for a population of roughly 9,000, while North Liberty has a 40,000 square-foot rec center for a nearly 20,000 population.
The facility concept was described to the city council as “a safe, secure spot that kids feel that they can go and just enjoy themselves and be a kid, whether it’s for a team, for an organized sport or just recreational use as well– having that access, having some open-floor hours.”
The presented interior plans also included a north-facing lobby and reception area, retail space, offices and a sauna/steam room. A physical therapist clinic looking to move to the area would also have a 1,800 square-foot area. A basement similar to the North Liberty Community Center is also included for consideration.
The pre-engineered steel building would have plenty of south-facing windows to bring in natural light to the basketball courts, which would have high enough ceilings to double as volleyball courts. As Iowa City lacks a kids wrestling tournament, the facility could also potentially bring state and national tournaments to Tiffin.
The 13.25-acre site concept included one parking access and an estimated 200 parking stalls, described as being “at the edge of being under parked.” The neighboring church, however, is anticipated to be an agreeable partner regarding parking. Tiffin Mayor Steve Berner emphasized the need for a second parking access.
While the initial facility plan cited an opportunity for the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) swim team, the CCA school district is not currently involved. “We’ll probably continue to have discussions with them, but we probably need to get a little bit further down the road to determine whether or not they’re going to be part of this or not,” Tiffin City Administrator Doug Boldt said, noting most of CCA High School’s interest revolves around having its own swimming pool. The school currently shares with Williamsburg High School.

Continued exploration & community input

Although preliminary, Diamond Dreams’ concept falls within the ballpark of Tiffin’s vision for a future recreation complex, with the city council expressing universal interest.
Planning for a recreation center leaves plenty of questions in the air, however for the budding community, which is not yet equipped for such an ambitious project.
“Somewhere we’re going to have to get with a real recreation director, whether we hire somebody, or when that comes, we’re going to have to work that out,” Mayor Berner said, citing a need to get a consultant upfront and possibly hiring a full-time director two years from now. Diamond Dreams offered to provide staffing for the center, an idea the city favored.
“We’re going to need help,” Berner added. “We don’t know what we want ourselves.”
The mayor also raised concerns of the facility concept being landlocked and not allowing for growth in the future. “If we determine in five years we need eight courts instead of three, where do we go?”
While the concept starts at about 13 acres, it could provide several acres of growth, as well as the possibility of adding a dome over outdoor soccer turf.
Barring potential land restrictions, Mayor Berner called the idea “fantastic.”
The city currently sees the establishment of a recreation complex happening as soon as three years from now. According to the Tiffin 2014-22 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), GO bonds of $5 million would be allocated for a community center for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
Tiffin city officials met with Shive-Hattery Wednesday, Oct. 17, to discuss square footage, drawing on previous facilities the firm has developed, as well as to begin developing a community survey. Currently, the City of Tiffin is fine-tuning the survey in order to understand residents’ needs and wants from a complex before advancing further on the project. Boldt said the survey will likely be sent out within a month, with the results to be discussed at a following council meeting.
“We’re making sure that we explore all the options of a private-public partnership in the effort to make sure that the city’s recreational needs are not only met in the near future, but in the long range future as well,” explained Boldt. “The feeling is that we’re heading down the right road here; we just need to make sure that we’re pretty cognizant of getting there with everybody on board.”