Collaboration key to successful rec center project |

Collaboration key to successful rec center project

by Helaine Jesse

As Carson City grows and changes, it is heartening to witness the many community collaborations that are making a positive impact on our lives. Consider the generosity of local residents in building a community cancer treatment center, the multiple local agencies that have cooperated in creating and operating our Mentor Center of Western Nevada, and our community’s new anti-meth coalition to help protect our children from disastrous drug use.

It makes me proud to be part of a new proposed collaboration that will also improve the lives of local residents – the building of a new community health, wellness and recreation center. This collaboration between Carson City and Western Nevada Community College is the best kind of partnership – it will serve citizens of all ages, ethnicities and gender; advocate the benefits of staying healthy through activity and education; and save money by sharing costs between local and state government.

As a native Nevadan who has lived nearly all my life in Carson City, I see great value in a project that is geared toward all ages and types of residents, and that is fiscally responsible in sharing facilities and construction/operating costs. The proposed joint center will provide services for youth through adults, students and non-students, from all ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic levels.

We know that our community has grown to the point that we need to invest in additional facilities for youth and adult basketball and volleyball, exercise classes, leisure swimming and community meeting space. At WNCC, we’ve also been planning for more than a decade to create facilities where students can take wellness-related courses and enjoy regular physical activity, guiding them toward a lifetime of emotional and physical health and opening the door to the growing number of wellness-related careers.

The opportunity to collaborate on the community recreation center is an innovative, fiscally responsible answer to these convergent community needs. Both partners have much to offer – WNCC proposes to provide land in a prime location on the Carson City campus, and is asking the Nevada Legislature to share the cost of building the center with Carson City. If approved as a new facility on the college campus, the state would also then assist with the maintenance of the facility.

Access to the center will be easy, as the location selected is at the entrance to the WNCC campus on West College Parkway, next to parking lots and along two city bus routes. An operating agreement is being developed to clearly delineate the rights and responsibilities of all partners, to ensure that obligations are met.

But clearly, the most important obligation of this innovative and cost-effective project is to our diverse community. WNCC students who attend the Carson City campus mirror our community with a broad range of ages and ethnicities. They are mainly Carson City residents, who range in age from their teens to late adulthood – nearly half are under age 25, more than 20 percent are 45 or older. They are from all economic brackets – college-wide, nearly 40 percent of Western’s students qualified for some kind of financial assistance in 2005-06.

Cooperation is a hallmark in our community’s economic development efforts, and it is essential in higher education and city government, too. In today’s world, cooperative projects such as the proposed recreation center are not just a creative solution to providing new community services. In truth, they may be the only affordable solution to enhance our quality of life.

• Helaine Jesse is vice president of institutional advancement at Western Nevada Community College.