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Focus Editorial: PACC project worth doing right, again

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In September 1994, Chuck Johnson wrote a column in this paper regarding the first Perham Area Community Center expansion, “PACC worth doing right.”

Johnson argued that leaving out a portion of the expansion project would strand different groups that could benefit.

“There’s nothing worse than to getting done with a project and saying to yourself, ‘I wish I would have done a better job,’” Johnson wrote.

Just five years after the PACC was built, Perham’s leaders pushed for an expansion that added a new gym, along with a walking track and expanded storage.

In the 25 years since that initial expansion, little has been done to update the amenities or efficiency of the PACC. And Perham is once again faced with a decision: Do the project the right way, or strand benefiting groups.

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This time around, doing the PACC the right way means including the aquatics center and kids' playland in the expansion plans.

The hard part is already over. Thanks to voter approval, the project is benefiting greatly from a local sales tax and state bonds that will bring in over $9 million.

That leaves a $7.5 million funding gap to complete aquatics portion.

City Attorney Dennis Happel is working to close this gap with donations, and has already secured millions of dollars in pledges.

If the full funding is guaranteed by Happel’s anticipated goal of January, what’s the holdup for the full project?

The city is understandably concerned that if the PACC were to fall into future financial trouble, it would be stuck with the bill.

The PACC’s new director, Leigh Shebeck, has already shifted the PACC’s momentum by running it more as a business. The profitability of the PACC will only increase with the more amenities it will offer.

Remember, the PACC still draws around 130,000 to 150,000 annual visitors from its over 4,000 members.

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With more events, including competitive swimming set to take place in a pool with room for 500 spectators, PACC supporters expect those attendance numbers will only go up.

The full expansion will be vital to attracting more people, especially young people to move to the area.

An investment into the community right now will reap benefits for years to come. The PACC will shine for generations alongside the new high school and hospital.

Don’t walk away from this project wishing you would’ve done a better job.

Related Topics: PACC
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