Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Letter to the Editor: Baldwin City Community Center

My name is Dan Harris and I have been a resident of Baldwin City for 32 years. This town has been populated with many outstanding individuals and families. The local school district, under outstanding leadership, has had many of their employees recognized by the state of Kansas for their achievements. Baker University plays a role in the quality of Baldwin City and it served my wife and me personally as we both retired from Baker University after many years of service. The political scene has been very active and vibrant and our city leadership sincerely cares about the quality of our lives. You cannot talk about Baldwin City without mentioning the Maple Leaf Festival and all it brings to this community.
I am currently a member of the Baldwin City Recreation Commission and have served the community in other capacities in my 32 years of residency. In my retirement I went to work for AstroTurf as a part-time sales consultant and travel around the Midwest developing leads for synthetic turf opportunities for our sales force. My position with AstroTurf has created a unique opportunity to visit communities in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Oklahoma. That travel allowed me to assess the community support for local athletic programs, community fitness activities, and the quality of life in small and large towns in all of the aforementioned states. One aspect of that experience created the opportunity for me to tour many of the local Community Centers.
As some of you in this community know, I have a strong passion to help Baldwin City find the support to bring a Community Center to serve our population. My tours of some of the centers included an award winning one in Fremont, Nebraska, a town of about 26,000. Many of you might be aware of Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence and the Lawrence Sports Pavilion indoor facility that houses basketball, pickle ball, volleyball, and a walking track with cardio and weight equipment. It also houses an indoor turfed soccer field for competitive play. Many local Kansas communities like Eudora, Gardner, De Soto, Ottawa, and Council Groves have functional Community Centers that serve their population of all ages.
Upon returning to the town that I love, Baldwin City, I was feeling very inspired to continue my quest to find support for a Community Center. I envision great collaboration among our public school system, the local government, and Baker University. This cooperative spirit will create new relationships and bonds that can lead to other community developments. I envision our children having a safe place for physical activity and sport. I want a common space for the senior citizens of this community…these are the very people whose shoulders we stand on due to their sacrifice and effort to make Baldwin City a community of which we can be proud. Those senior citizens need an established common space to celebrate their achievements and to stay healthy and active. Our children should have the ability to pursue their athletic dreams and goals without having to travel to other communities to use athletic facilities not available in our town.
If you feel the desire to support a community center in Baldwin City, then stand up and let your voice be heard. Speak to members of the Baldwin City Recreation Commission and your local City Council members and city leadership. Visit with your friends who might share this same vision and get them active in developing interest. I’m going to keep focused on the possibility of a community center in this town one day, with architectural ideas, research on construction costs, site selection, and facility content that will serve all ages and interests. Bring your thoughts and ideas to the forefront and let’s all “LET OUR VOICES BE HEARD!” Beautiful Baldwin City will become even more attractive to visitors if this common unity of the City of Baldwin, USD 348, and Baker University will support the goal of building a functional and well-designed Community Center.
- Dan Harris
Baldwin City, KS

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