SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A city in north central South Dakota will continue to carry out the mission of a private religious-based college, but not in the traditional sense.
The city of Aberdeen will buy several buildings and a parcel of undeveloped land on the campus of the closed Presentation College from the Presentation Sisters. Presentation College opened in 1951. The college closed in August.
“Earlier this year when we first learned of the impending closure, we reached out…,” Aberdeen mayor Travis Schaunaman said.
The discussion centered on “how the city could perpetuate the mission of the (Sisters and the college)…,” Schaunaman said.
“The city’s park and recreation (programs) is a good fit for how the Sisters would want to continue to use it,” Schaunaman said.
The city will buy the Strode Center which was the gym for Presentation’s basketball teams. It will also buy the soccer field, a parking lot and some undeveloped land near the football practice field which has an inflatable dome cover.
Presentation had a roughly 72-year presence in the city and its closure was noticed, he said. Still, over the past several years, the number of on-campus students decreased as the number of online students increased.
“Obviously, you don’t want to let an opportunity like this pass us by,” Schaunaman said. “These are incredible facilities.”
There is a “clamoring for more gym space” in the community, Schaunaman said. The parks and recreation (and forestry) department is also looking for ways to expand winter activities.
The city also plans to allow organizations such as Northern State University, to use the domed practice field but also wants to expand the available use.
“There will be some opportunity for revenue,” Schaunaman said, but that won’t be a lot. Revenue wasn’t the driver, he said. “For us, it’s more a quality of life (reason).”
Schaunaman said he could not disclose the purchase price as “we are still buttoning up the details. The Sisters have been more than fair….”
The Presentation campus is 1500 N Main St. in Aberdeen.
The campus has undeveloped property along with mature trees. “It’s a pretty campus that’s been well tended to over the years,” Schaunaman said.
The mayor said the city could be interested in other parcels or buildings on the campus, including as a possible partner.
The campus has newer student housing and some newer education buildings, he said.
However, the city’s priority was the property and facilities that fit within the park and recreation plans.
The city will continue to trust and respect the process the Sisters are using to find and evaluate potential uses for the other buildings and property on campus, Schaunaman said.
The turnout this week for installing the inflatable dome roof over the football practice field could be seen as an indication of the enthusiasm for the city’s purchase.
Schaunaman said more than 60 city staff and volunteers showed up to help with the dome roof.
The dome inflation was expected to be completed today.