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ATLANTIC, IA – In April, over 70 people gathered at the Cass County Community Center to discuss potential future community recreation projects for the greater Atlantic area. The meeting was called by the Nishna Valley Family YMCA in conjunction with the city of Atlantic. Many potential community recreation projects were showcased at the meeting, and participants were invited to share their own additional ideas. Then, at the end of the meeting, participants were asked to rank all projects discussed in order of priority. The projects receiving the most interest were (in order of priority): a splash pad (a water play area for children), a senior center, an outdoor pool space at the YMCA, a children’s museum, a teen center, and area trail development.

Additional community recreation projects pitched at the community meeting by the YMCA included a children’s soft play space, pickle ball courts, community activity rooms, a coffee/smoothie bar, an indoor pool renovation, a cycling studio, and indoor golf. Additional community recreation needs identified by those in attendance included drop-in childcare, community events such as an outdoor steak night, adult day care, dirt bike and ATV trails, a fitness studio, and improved digital presence and marketing of community recreation events.

“No projects have been committed to at this time,” commented YMCA Executive Director Dan Haynes, “but this community input helps us decide what we want to look into further.” Given this feedback, the Nishna Valley Family YMCA board will begin researching cost estimates for expanding the YMCA building to include community spaces such as a teen and senior center, and further discussions will be had on additional potential projects including potential locations and funding strategies.

Cass County Wellness Coordinator Brigham Hoegh noted that feedback from the event aligns with the recent Cass County Community Health Needs Assessment, which identified mental health, quality, affordable childcare, quality, affordable housing, and senior services and support as high needs in the community. “When we see childcare and senior services raised as issues in multiple formats, we know we need to continue to work to address these needs.”

Hoegh also noted the importance of sharing this feedback with people across Cass County and organizations working on community recreation, such as Healthy Cass County. Although the Nishna Valley Family YMCA is located in Atlantic, it was noted at the meeting multiple times that the YMCA serves Cass County and areas outside of Atlantic. Additional discussion was had on the need to offer community recreation opportunities and programming outside Atlantic, and to make sure community recreation opportunities are accessible to those outside of Atlantic.

Dave Chase, President of Nishna Valley Trails, was pleased to learn Cass County trails had been identified as a priority by the group. “We know from the Cass County Community Health Needs Assessment and the recent Cass County Outdoor Recreation Survey that there is community interest in expanding and improving the trail system in the county, and particular interest in connecting the T-Bone Trail to Atlantic” commented Chase. “This feedback again confirms that trail updates are important to people in the area.” Chase further added, “We have good momentum right now as our Cass County Trails Plan is being revised, and various bicycling organizations are working to get bike trails connected across the United States.” Anyone interested in joining the Nishna Valley Trails email newsletter or financially supporting trail improvement projects in Cass County can contact Dave Chase at [email protected] or 712-249-3059.

Questions about the community recreation discussion can be directed to Nishna Valley Family YMCA Executive Director Dan Haynes at [email protected] or 712-243-3934.

Questions about the Community Health Needs Assessment and related Health Improvement Plan can be directed to Cass County Public Health Director Beth Olsen at [email protected] or 712-243-7552.

Questions about Healthy Cass County can be directed to Cass County Wellness Coordinator Brigham Hoegh at [email protected] or call 712-249-5870. Healthy Cass County is a community network that promotes the health and wellbeing of all people in Cass County. Healthy Cass County is looking to add members from communities outside of Atlantic. For information on community wellness events and resources, follow Healthy Cass County on Facebook @HealthyCassCounty.