Bowling alley scores strike with feasibility study

After many months of anticipation, the Hettinger bowling alley feasibility study was completed to assess the prospects of the space being a feasible business or community space.

Frank Turner

The goal of the study was to see if the building could be revived into a usable space, recreational activity, and business for the community, as well as assess community support for the project. Engineers also estimated the cost of repairs, and the results from the study are promising for the bowling alley’s future, which has been sitting dormant since 2013.
“It’s been sitting empty, not being utilized by the community for the last five years,” said Executive Director of the Hettinger Chamber of Commerce and Adams County Development Corporation Jasmin Fosheim. “We’re excited about what the feasibility study could mean for the future of the bowling alley.”
The first part of the study was to determine if the community supported the Adams County Development Corporation’s (ACDC) initiative to revive the bowling alley.
To measure the level of interest, ACDC analyzed paper surveys set out in local businesses and community events as well as online surveys. Over the course of a few weeks, 269 Adams County residents, over 10 percent of the Adams County population, responded to the survey.
The surveys showed 90 percent of respondents supported the idea of having additional personal enrichment, professional development, and job training opportunities in the community, something the Development Corporation was considering hosting in the extra spaces available in the bowling alley facility.  65 percent of respondents said they would participate in such events if made available. According to the survey results, 45 percent responded that they would be willing to volunteer their time or services to support the bowling alley facility.
In this month’s Adams County Commissioner meeting, Fosheim reported, “The community clearly supports the opening of the bowling alley. The community also communicated overwhelming support for workforce development, personal enrichment, professional development, and events.”
A key component of the feasibility study was inspecting the bowling alley equipment. The study found that all eight lanes in the bowling alley are in good shape, needing only a new coat of paint in the gutters.
Machines such as the ball returner and pinsetters are also in moderately good shape; however, some maintenance repairs would be necessary.  The alley would need a new lane oiler, scoring system, pins and foul sensors. Together these equipment needs would cost an estimated $45,000 for used equipment.
The structure of the building was also assessed in the study. Due to snow, the roof has not yet been inspected. The study estimated that the repair costs for the building interior, exterior, and building site would total $126,000. According to Fosheim, if ACDC were to pursue the bowling alley, most costs would be funded through grants.
Although the costs of renovating the bowling alley are significant, the feasibility study estimated that the bowling alley would likely be a profitable business with noteworthy cash flow.
ACDC has not made any decision as to what the future of the bowling alley will be and many options are still being considered. Assuming ACDC does decide to acquire and renovate the building, the exact role of the bowling alley has yet to be decided.
One option Fosheim discussed was having the bowling alley run in a similar fashion to the movie theater, which is currently a community facility with an oversight board.
Alternatively, another option briefly discussed during the feasibility study presentation was a way for ACDC to act like a landlord of the building and lease out the facility to a competent manager who would run the business, similar to the current relationship between ACDC and KMM.
Regardless of what ACDC decides, bowling enthusiasts in Adams County are one step closer to a hometown bowling alley.

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