Just seven years after building the $40 million Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in North Dayton, the Salvation Army plans to expand across the street with an amphitheater and soccer field to fill the growing needs of children in the neighborhood.
The Salvation Army wants to begin construction in the spring on the $4.3 million expansion and open the field in 2019, with the 1000 N. Keowee St. center expanding across Webster Street onto land it bought from Dayton Public Schools.
The Dayton center is one of 25 Kroc centers built across the country in disadvantaged neighborhoods, the legacy of McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc, who died in 2003. She bequeathed $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army to create places where children and families could find recreational, educational and cultural activities otherwise beyond their reach.
Major Stanley Senak said the regulation soccer field will cater to the interests of the children they work with, including the growing immigrant population in the area. Staff had previously spotted kids playing with a makeshift soccer field in the area, which helped prompt the idea.
“In this community we have a larger immigrant population and they play soccer,” Senak said. “We were looking at what would meet the needs in this community.”
The project will be funded with Salvation Army resources from philanthropist and McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc’s donation to the national organization, which also helped fund the seven-year-old Dayton community center.
The center has about 120 children participate in its after school program but also has additional child focused programs and families that it helps at Christmas, with emergency utility assistance and other family focused programs
Jerry Bowling III, president of the McCook Field Neighborhood Association, said he was excited when he learned the Kroc Center had plans for the empty lot and will bring more options for event space.
“The fact that that land is being used is huge, plus it also expands the capabilities of the Kroc Center and the Salvation Army to serve the community,” he said.
While the Dayton center has plenty of indoor space, like a large worship center and 128-seat movie theater, Business Administrator Tim Erlandson said they could use more outdoor space for recreation.
There is room at the original 17 acre site to tear down more trees and develop more of the green space, but the Salvation Army decided they wanted to keep the green space on the original campus. The property across the street gave them the opportunity to expand and maintain the green space on the original campus.
The site will also have an amphitheater where people can bring their lawn chairs and attend concerts and events. Senak said they have “big dreams” for the new outdoor event area and want it to be a place where neighbors can gather for events.
“It will be something where the neighborhood can come and have a fun time,” Senak said.
There also will be a building constructed at the end of the lot that can house the Salvation Army’s mobile feeding canteen and can be used as a warehouse, bathrooms for the center and a concession area.
The soccer field will be able to serve as a lacrosse field. The project will also include a walking track wrapping around the field, a splash pad, and outdoor pickleball courts. Senak said interest in pickleball has picked up in Dayton and its the fastest growing sport in America.
“It’s really picked up on our indoor courts,” he said.