Adherents Say New Recreation Center Plan Is Better, Stronger
by William Woody
Sep 01, 2013 | 2103 views | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SIGN OF THE TIMES – A sign on a possible site for a new Montrose Rec Center. (Photo by William Woody)
SIGN OF THE TIMES – A sign on a possible site for a new Montrose Rec Center. (Photo by William Woody)
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MONTROSE — In a perfect scenario, Montrose residents could enjoy the amenities of a new recreation center paid for by grants, private funding partnerships and local fund raising said Montrose Recreation District Executive Director Ken Sherbenou.

If these costs were not covered, however, residents could opt for a sales tax increase lower than other western Colorado communities that have built modern recreation centers. 

At a public meeting on Thursday, Aug. 22, the Montrose Recreation District and members of its board presented an updated plan to 175 members of the community for a new recreation center in Montrose. 

"Overall it was very positive,” Sherbenou said, adding that “the exit surveys we gave of those attending reflect a lot of enthusiasm and excitement about this possibly."

In April 2012 a proposal of 0.2 percent sales tax increase for 10 to 14 years failed at the ballot box, 2,372 for and 2,971 against.

Sherbenou said not only did if fail due to those weary of a tax increase, but, he said, because "the overall plan wasn't good enough."

What’s Needed, say MRD officials, is a place where residents could improve their health, enrich and prolong their lives – and a pace that’s an economic driver for strengthening the community. 

"Most said they saw the need and benefit, but it wasn't right," Sherbenou said of the 2012 initiative. Of its failure with voters, he said, "We have taken that message to heart, and hopefully the improvements are something we can agree on.

The biggest change from the 2012 plan was the lack of land-acquisition: The district had plans, drafted on paper, but no place to build.

Months after the April vote, the MRD purchased 26 acres located off Woodgate Road for $300,000. The district had budged $800,000 from lottery funds to buy land, and was able to bank $500,000, thanks to the Woodgate purchase. 

"When we were researching properties,” Sherbenou said, the Woodgate Road site “was determined to be our top site.

"It's accessible and it's visible,” he added.

MRD estimates Montrose usage of a new facility would be about 431 users per day – more than Delta, but lower than Durango, two Western Slope towns that have built new rec centers in recent years.

Currently within the MRD, there are an estimated 400 basketball players, 300 volleyball and 200 indoor soccer players, using nine facilities year-round. 

The question now is how to pay for it.

Sherbenou said if the district does not pay for the entire cost, after grants, funding partnerships or donations, a tax increase could face voters in 2014. 

At last week’s  presentation, MRD representatives said voters could opt for a 0.5 percent sales tax increase –  less than half of what voters in Cortez, Fruita, Durango, Gunnison and Delta passed to fund new community rec centers. 

Sherbenou said he didn't know exactly what the Montrose increase would be, but that the MRD would have to wait and determine how much would be needed to cover the gap in funding. The MRD has studied the building efforts in nearby communities, as well as determined that Montrose is similar to those communities, in both demographics and political views. 

Sherbenou said a stronger relationship with the City of Montrose has made the new plan better, and that results from the Aug. 22 exit surveys determined that 93 percent of those in attendee "strongly" agreed the new plan was headed in the right direction. 

To view the MRD master plan and take the survey visit: 

www.montroserec.com.

Sherbenou said results from those surveys will be used in the MRD's future decisionmaking process. 

The MRD plans to unveil an updated plan at a Nov. 10 meeting at the Montrose Aquatic Center. The public is also encouraged to attend monthly MRD board meetings. The Nov. 10 meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

A tour of Aquatic Center during its upcoming maintenance closure is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 4, at 11:30 a.m.

 

REC CENTER FACTS

Western Colorado communities that have passed sales tax increases to build recreation centers:

 

Cortez

Passed 1 percent tax in a one percent in 2003

325 daily users

Population: 8,451

 

Fruita

Passed 1 percent tax in a one percent in 2008

505 daily users

Population 12,677

 

Delta

Passed 1 percent tax in a one percent in 1992

500 daily users

Population: 8,915

 

Durango

Passed 1 percent tax in a one percent in 2001

1,000 daily users

Population: 16,627

 

Gunnison

Passed 1 percent tax in a one percent in 2006

300 daily users

Population 5,554

 

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wwoody@watchnewspapers.com

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