Greg LaDouceur, Grand Forks Park Board candidate (incumbent)
Q. Why are you running? A. I got on the board at the start because I came through the park system and it was very good to me growing up. When my children were younger and going through park programs, I was looking for something to do to go along ...
Q. Why are you running?
A. I got on the board at the start because I came through the park system and it was very good to me growing up. When my children were younger and going through park programs, I was looking for something to do to go along with my teaching duties and coaching duties because I wanted to give something back to the community. I decided to run for the board eight years ago and was fortunate enough to be elected. I'm up for re-election again in June, and decided I'd try for another term.
I enjoy it. The first term was a lot of learning. My second term, I'm still learning; there are still lots of things going on, new things coming on. I just want to try one more term here to see what we can get accomplished.
Q. What accomplishments are you proud of and what do you look forward to doing?
A. We've had a lot of debatable things on the board. The Riverside pool was a big issue that there were mixed feelings about among board members. Once the community spoke up and wanted it, they got our backing 100 percent. We're doing whatever we can to make Riverside Park and the pool area a great amenity for the community. Going into the second year here now, we're looking for some good things to come out of the Riverside Pool area and the park.
For the future, the big thing obviously is the wellness center. We're doing some really good fund-raising right now. We're getting closer; we still have work to do.
Q. Where does that stand now? Give us a thumbnail sketch of the funding status.
A. Honestly, I don't have the numbers in my head. They're still coming and going. We don't have a whole lot of things tied down or "signed on the dotted line" yet. We do have some very important people on board who have signed leases and agreements, and that's a very good plus.
Right now, we just need to keep raising the funds. We're starting the public phase to get out there to find some more money if people are willing.
Q. As I recall, the public phase wasn't going to start until they had 80 percent of the money. Correct?
A. Yes. We're getting close. You see, the 80 percent depends on what size of a facility we're building -- whether it's a $15 million or a $20 million project. They're starting to get the sketches together; we're getting a lot closer to deciding what type of facility we may be able to go for.
And again, we want to do all of it without any tax dollars involved at all. Is that a possibility? I think it is. I think the interest is there from the community; there has been a lot of positive feedback on the need for a wellness center.
I'd like to see that project go forward -- cautiously, of course; we don't want to do something that's going to come back and hurt the community. But I don't see that happening. I think it will be a real positive.
Q. That 80 percent -- does that refer to 80 percent coming from major donations, and the last 20 percent from soliciting the public at large? How does that work?
A. The 80 percent is more of the signed agreements between the different people who are going to be leasing some of the areas within the facility.
Q. Is this for operations or for the construction cost?
A. The leasing arrangements would be more for the operations costs. The remaining 20 percent then would be primarily through membership dues.
Q. And the construction cost will be fully covered by donations?
A. Correct. Also, we've agreed to use one mill of the Park District's money to help. There still is lots of work left to be done, but we're cautiously going into it as a board. It's also something that as a board, we'd really like to see happen.
Q. Do you think the wellness center will be up and running in the next four years?
A. Definitely. We've been looking at this for three or four years and would like to get it up and going if possible, and sooner rather than later. We also need to keep enhancing what we have now, building on what we have in the community -- the Greenway, the parks and so many other things.
There's just a lot that we can still do. The Greenway, like I said -- to beautify that, to enhance that, to maybe add some things along the way for people to do while they're out enjoying the Greenway.
That would be one of the things that I would like to see done in the next four years. We've got a lot of things now, and I think that as a park district, it's part of our responsibility is to keep them up, keep them working and looking nice.
Q. Heard any complaints about government getting into the wellness center industry?
A. They're always going to be there, but I don't see us competing against the private sector. We've been here a long time. A lot of these companies have arrived since we started, so they came in and competed against us.
Plus, they're a whole different business. They're the 24-hour types, and they often don't offer workout classes. People are there to work out, to lift weights and run the treadmill.
Ours is more of a family facility, where the kids can go and they can do their tennis lessons; and there'll be a pool in this facility, they'll be able to do their swimming lessons. We'll also have the therapeutic things you don't get in the private sector.
There's a place for the private sector. What they do in town is great; you drive by them any time of the day, you see people in there. That's fantastic, and the last thing we want to do is push them out. That's not the goal of this at all. It's just to provide something better for families.
Right now, our current facility -- if you're a tennis player or you like to work out, that's great, but that's about it. In the new facility, we're going to have full-size basketball courts and a lot of other spaces and equipment that people can use.
So I haven't heard a lot of complaints about competition. And in any event, I don't think we compete against them. We cater to a whole different clientele.
Q. Any areas of concern or places you'd like to see grow regarding youth sports?
A. We do a fantastic job with youth sports. We offer such a wide variety of activities. We have tennis camps, golf camps, a 6-hole free course for young golfers over at Lincoln Park; it's a fantastic little facility that I'd highly recommend.
That Abbot sports complex that we did: As a tennis coach, it hurt to see them take away them take away tennis courts. There were six tennis courts there, and we took away four.
But we added basketball courts, and if you ever drive by there in the evenings or in the summertime, they're packed. It's a great facility.
Q. Any news in the world of pools or splash parks?
A. With the pools, of course, we don't have very many real nice days in the summer when we're able to swim. But Riverside Pool is a heated pool now; that's going to be better than before the flood. We have the splash park at Elks Park, we have the one at University Park.
We would love to see large numbers at both Elks and Riverside pools. If budget problems force the pool in East Grand Forks to close, I can see a lot of the people coming over to Riverside Pool this summer. And we'd welcome them.
Q. Can you tell us about your work?
A. I'm an elementary phy-ed teacher at Century Elementary. I'm in my 21st year of teaching. I coached Grand Forks Central in hockey for nine years and coached boys tennis for 11 years at Central and just finished up my ninth year of coaching tennis at Red River.
Q. A parent who likes basketball was wondering if the Park District and UND might be open to an arrangement where the courts in the old Hyslop field house could be opened for a few hours a week. UND's new wellness center has courts, and the older ones in Hyslop seem underused at this point. Is there some way to get more open gym time for kids, perhaps in the new wellness center?
A. Basketball has been part of the discussion with the wellness center, because when we went and looked at other facilities, there were some that had basketball courts as well -- some with separate gates so that kids could come in, pay a $2 fee and play basketball without having full-membership access to the fitness and other facilities. If that's the kind of thing that the community wants, we'd be open to it. Because honestly, we don't do a whole lot for basketball.
We get requests for all kinds of sports -- what can we do for the skateboard people; they want indoor skate facilities. There are lots of different things out there that we get asked to do.
Q. What do you think are the top decisions board members have to make in the next few years?
A. Like anything else in this economy, we have to watch our budget. Our money is the community's money. We've got a lot of proposals out there, the wellness center being the big thing. If we have to do it phases due to the money, that's what we will do. None of us wants to open a $20 million facility when we only have $14 million to do it.
Also, we want to keep King's Walk going. It's getting better and better all the time, and that's a major thing for us.
Like I said before, we have to keep maintaining things, keeping things up to date. And if people have some other ideas, I'd invite them to contact us. If we can afford to do it, we'll do it. Like I said earlier, we just have to keep enhancing and beautifying the things we have.
That's how the dog park came about, after all, and I've heard nothing but positives about that.
Frisbee golf: From what we hear, our Frisbee golf course down at Lincoln Drive Park is one of the best around. It's just a phenomenal course, and people are playing it all the time.