This is a paid piece from the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.

Simplified: Brandon's Aspen Park has seen some big changes in the last five years with an impressive baseball field and a $1.6 million pool renovation. And more changes are likely to come with some even bigger public-private partnerships in the works. Here's what you need to know.

Why it matters

  • The City of Brandon has a long history of public-private partnerships within its parks system. Back in the 1970s, the McHardy family donated the land for what is now McHardy Park. It became the first developed park in Minnehaha County, according to Brandon Development Director Patrick Andrews.
  • The city, in partnership with ISG, put together a master plan for Aspen Park in 2019. That plan includes space for more baseball fields, as well as a new hockey arena and a wellness center intended to host several of the various sporting associations in town.
  • These plans are still in the early stages with much work to be done, Andrews said. But, without community partnerships, it's unlikely the goals in the city's long-term plan for Aspen Park would be reachable.
"We couldn’t possibly make our budget stretch to cover everything people want to do," Andrews said. "And that's where these private associations come in. They fill the gaps in terms of recreation."

Tell me more about the big-picture plan

There are two big facilities currently in the fundraising and planning stages: the wellness center and the hockey arena.

The hockey arena aims to provide the community with another option for indoor recreation and help give people another option for recreation in the winter months.

The goal of the planned wellness center is to create a community gathering space. The preliminary renderings include indoor soccer fields, pickleball and tennis courts, a fitness center and an indoor track in an estimated 200,000-square-foot, $30 to $40 million facility, according to Building Manager Mike Bergst.

"We’re building it for five reasons: November, December, January, February and March," Bergst said.

The Brandon Area Soccer Association has also entered a memorandum of understanding with the city to reserve some land for future soccer fields.

The city's goal is to lean on these partnerships to help with the development and programming of Aspen Park. Brandon doesn't dedicated resources for recreation in its parks department, Andrews said, and these relationships are critical to providing recreational opportunities for the community.

"Public-private partnerships are increasingly how development happens in the Sioux Metro," Sioux Metro Growth Alliance President and CEO Jesse Fonkert said. "Aspen Park is a great example of how regional communities can leverage city resources with private donors."

What happens next?

The Brandon City Council is expected to review and potentially approve memorandums of understanding related to the hockey arena, wellness center and soccer fields in its next meeting on Monday.

Then, the work is up to the private partners to continue their fundraising and make these visions a reality.