Bill funding Box Elder recreational facility takes step forward

PIERRE, S.D. – The development of the Liberty Center in Box Elder took another step forward in the approval process Monday, passing through the House Appropriations Committee.

As the infrastructure needs at Ellsworth Air Force Base change due to the incoming B-21 bomber, the current space for events and athletics will be removed. The new $12.6 million dollar facility will span 58,000 square feet right outside the base’s main gate and provide multi-use space for athletics, childcare, and more.

House Bill 1019 sets aside $3.2 million dollars to fund the facility and allows construction to move forward as early as March. The rest of the project is funded by grants within the Department of Defense and a Pennington County TIF.

Annual payments by the DOD and memberships for the local community would cover the day-to-day costs.

“We’re very confident between the agreement with the base and whatever public memberships are sold, as well as the opportunities that the National Guard would provide by a long-term arrangement for use, we can cover ongoing expenses and we won’t have an issue needing funds,” said Executive Director of the Ellsworth Development Authority Scott Landguth.

The goal is to have the facility up and running by May 2022. Phase one is set to include athletic spaces while phases two and three, while not yet funded or fully planned, set eyes on aquatics and healthcare. Ultimately, the facility will be an anchor to the community of Box Elder as a whole, providing a central location for development.

The B-21 is estimated to bring in another 1,500 active duty military members on top of the existing 3,500.

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