What is new in the parks department in Sioux Center?

This is the question I get the most when I am either on the job, at the store or at church. Most expect me to start talking about a certain project, offer me ideas for a project and even give ideas on how to do the projects. I personally love to talk about the new relationships I have built throughout the winter from local business owners wanting to invest into the community with financial giving toward a project or getting a group of employees to spend time helping clean up our community or helping do projects. It is so important to continue the wonderful relationships we have built here, and the one that continues to impress everyone I speak to is joint use with city of Sioux Center, Sioux Center School District and Dordt University.

These types of relationships are what make Sioux Center great. I am constantly living the Sioux Center motto of “Progress Through Cooperation.” There are lots of times this process is painful, but it always comes to an extremely positive outcome. The parks department and the Sioux Center Parks Board are always here to listen to ideas that would make out community great. Some can be done quickly and some take years to plan and budget and build the partners to help make them successful.

As we have navigated through 2020 and COVID-19, and looking back at the number of usages at our sports complexes, parks and trails, this past year stands out in the 12 years I have been with the city. I can’t believe how active our community is. I see the amount of people on our trails every day and look out my office and see hundreds of athletes training this time of year in baseball, softball, track, soccer and football. Every square inch of green space is being used to the maximum capacity. Then, on a nice spring day, people are so eager to use our amenities within our parks system after a long winter. This time of year, the excitement of new projects really starts to build, but what I also love every year is just really keeping our community the most well-maintained and nicest looking city and doing this at the highest level.

As we (the parks department) look forward to 2021, this year is going to be a year of planning. We are going to focus on master planning Central Park as we see our amenities there starting to see their age and useful life being met. We will also be doing work this year at Westside Park, as we have budgeted dollars to be used there for upgrades. We also look for ways to tastefully continue to add art to our green spaces. We are looking toward the next few trails projects that will make large impacts to our community health. We will also be finishing up our waterway project in Children’s Park and finally getting the disc golf course there finished.

As our community plans and preps for some amazing projects within the city, some of which will impact our parks and green spaces, we are full of excitement with how we can make things better and provide better spaces with vibrant life of not only human activities but of different ways that we can we can interact with environmental life of nature, of different types of trees we haven’t seen, landscapes and flowers that are new and different, giving you spaces you can get to and find quiet time to enjoy the fresh air.

We in the parks department love our community and the partners within the community. With everyone doing their part to find those partnerships and continuing to find ways to do things together, this community will always be “Growing Bright” for years to come.

Lee Van Meeteren is the Sioux Center Parks director. He has worked for the city of Sioux Center for 12 years. He and his wife, Alissa, have been married for 11 years and have two children, Carter, 10, and Jaelee, 7. Lee enjoys golfing, boating and farming in his free time.