This is a paid piece from the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.
Simplified: Harrisburg's city government and community foundation have been working together for years to make significant improvements to the town's Central Park. Those improvements are happening, and it's already bringing more money to town.
Tell me more
With funding help from the Harrisburg Community Foundation, big changes are coming to Central Park, including new tee-ball fields, walking trails and improvements to the main baseball field.
As a result, Harrisburg has now been selected to host the 2023 Junior Legion State Tournament.
It's a big deal for the city, said Adrienne McKeown, who serves as both the executive director for the community foundation and director of operations for the Harrisburg Baseball Association.
"The more that we can provide a place where people want to be ... when you bring people to town, they bring their money with them," McKeown said. "So it's all going to help stimulate the economy."
Why it matters
- Park improvements have been on the radar for city officials for more than a decade. Master planning dates back to 2011, and a parks steering committee reinvigorated that work in 2017.
- These improvements are also needed to keep up with a growing population. McKeown said there are 80 baseball/tee-ball/softball teams in town and nearly 850 kids playing.
- The ball fields have long been in the park – located just north of Liberty Elementary School in the center of town – but the goal of the improvements is to both upgrade those facilities and create a park with more amenities that's about more than just baseball.
"The work Harrisburg is doing shows the value of investing in the quality of life of a community," said Jesse Fonkert, president and CEO of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. "These improvements will continue to pay dividends for the community."
What specific improvements are coming?
Several things are coming this spring. Here's a breakdown from McKeown – primarily focused on the main ball field after the initial bullet point:
- Four new tee-ball fields, for a total of six in the park (two old, four new, two torn down in the construction process)
- A new concession stand
- A crow's nest
- Bathrooms (actual running water, not just port a potties)
- A new scoreboard
- A new canopy structure covering the bleachers
- Some deck space on the upper level overlooking the field.
What happens next?
If all goes well with fundraising, the community foundation could potentially have what it needs to construct a pavilion in the park – essentially a "souped-up picnic shelter," McKeown said.
Another future plan includes construction of a band shell to bring even more events and entertainment to Harrisburg.
And, more immediately, the baseball field improvements are expected to be completed in time for baseball season.
How can I help?
If you're interested in funding these future park improvements, reach out to McKeown at email@example.com.