I love good ideas. I love problems. I love trying to figure out ways to solve problems. It’s the coach, the competitor, and the scientist in me. Some people probably say that it’s mostly the a$$hole in me but I digress.
First, a huge “THANK YOU!” to people who read my previous post, The End of an Era. It was a post about the school district’s decision to sell the iconic football stadium in Clay Center, Kansas. If you wish to share your favorite Unruh Stadium memories or histories, please add a comment on the post. I’d love to learn more from your stories!
One of the comments on the post completely blew my mind. It’s a great idea about what to do with Unruh Stadium after the school district moves out. The individual points out that since the city pretty much gave the stadium to the school district by selling it to them for one dollar, it’s only right for the school district to give it back, especially as they’ve invested very little in its physical upkeep over the years.
Basically, the community gave USD 379 a gift in the 1990s, and perhaps it’s time for USD 379 to return the gift.
Give it back. What an idea!
The commenter suggested that once returned to the city, the stadium could be used for public recreation. One thing that has been on many citizens’ minds over the past 15 years is the need for a real and actual Clay Center City Recreation facility in town. A group did a study a few years ago and drew up some nice plans for a facility but, if I remember correctly, the location was an identifiable problem. I agree the current stadium complex would make the perfect home for a Clay Center City Recreation facility for decades to come.
Picture three youth soccer/flag football fields on the current football field with seating and facilities already available. Next, imagine a future recreation building/parks department office complex with courts, classrooms, and community space at the south end of the Unruh Stadium. (The area currently being developed adjacent to the Clay County Fairgrounds could be sold, shared with the Fairgrounds Board, or kept for a future city development site.) With some time, investment, and TLC, it could be a stellar recreation facility. Just as important, it’s something our capable Parks & Recreation Department could maintain.
Taking a lead from the economic benefits that the Clay Center Aquatic Park brought to the local area, an even greater economic benefit can be tapped by making Clay Center an area hub for recreation activities. Youth sports, tournaments, leagues, adult activities, exercise classes, arts and crafts, and a place for the community to be a community.
The western corridor entering Clay Center exudes much of what Clay Center is. The Aquatic Park, Huntress Park, Schaulis Field, Montel Field, Brade’s Park & Shelter, Campbell Field, and Otto Unruh Stadium. That corridor is as identifiable with Clay Center as the Courthouse or Downtown or Utility Park.
It’s part of what we were as a community.
It’s part of who we are as a community.
It’s part of what the community will become.
Silver linings can be found in every cloud. One just has to be willing to rip the cloud apart sometimes to find them.
Finally, one also has to be willing to sit down, talk to people, and exchange ideas to solve even the most daunting of problems together.
That, my friends, is how communities move forward in a positive manner.