Council cool to idea of an athletic dome in a business park

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
A proposal to put an athletic dome on one of Elk River’s last available industrial lots with city water and sewer appears headed nowhere.
The Elk River City Council discussed the possibility with Spectrum charter school in a work session Monday, July 18.
Spectrum would own and operate the dome and use it for physical education and athletics.
Spectrum school officials have proposed a partnership with the city in which the city could use the dome at certain times in exchange for Spectrum locating it on part of a vacant city-owned lot in the Northstar Business Park off Twin Lakes Road.
While council members like the idea of the dome and the partnership, most were cool to the proposed site.
As Council Member Paul Motin put it: “It would be great to have, just not in that location.”
Other council members expressed similar sentiments except for Council Member Jerry Gumphrey, who was all for the dome in the proposed location.
“This is a win-win situation for everybody in the city and we need to do what we can to get this done,” Gumphrey said.
A majority of council members, however, appear to prefer that Spectrum work with the city staff to identify other possible locations for the dome. The city’s Youth Athetic Complex at 9850 165th Ave. was suggested as one potential site.
Spectrum officials like the Northstar Business Park lot because it’s within walking distance of Spectrum’s new school at 17796 Industrial Circle.
Most council members, however, want to preserve the entire lot for industrial development. There also was some concern about how a dome would fit into the area, given that buildings in the business park are held to design standards.
Spectrum proposed initially building an athletic field on part of the business park lot, followed at some point by the dome.
The 350-foot by 124-foot inflatable dome was donated to the school about three years ago. It was valued at $450,000, according to Rick Peterson, Spectrum’s director of athletics and facilities.
The dome had been used for seven tennis courts at LifeTime Fitness in St. Louis Park. Peterson said the dome is 40 feet high and would cover about two-thirds of a football field.
The dome would create in the range of 10-15 jobs, including a dome manager and attendants, he said.
The lot in the Northstar Business Park where Spectrum would like to put the dome is owned by the city’s Economic Development Authority (EDA). The EDA is made up of four council members and three citizens. They discussed the matter July 11, and the non-council members had reservations about the idea.
EDA Commissioner Pat Dwyer said he’s not in favor of giving up a piece of light industrial land with access to city water and sewer when the city has so little of that type of property available.
EDA President Ron Touchette also opposed the dome in the industrial park, saying: “I think it’s a bad idea. I don’t support it.”

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