Crown Mountain rec center supporters outspend foes | AspenTimes.com

Crown Mountain rec center supporters outspend foes

Supporters of a proposed midvalley recreation center collected almost four times the amount of campaign money their opponents did through Oct. 10, according to a finance report filed with the Colorado secretary of state.

More than two-thirds of the campaign finance funds in favor of the center came from a nonprofit organization that was formed four years ago to pursue the same goal, the report showed. The contribution is confusing because the nonprofit organization that made the donation has a name that is similar to the issues committee that received it.

Friends of the Crown Mountain Recreation Center gave Friends of Mid Valley Recreation Center a contribution of $6,340 on Sept. 17, the report said.

Kellie Smith, the treasurer for the issues committee, said the Colorado Secretary of State's Office said it was allowable for the nonprofit to transfer its remaining funds to the issues committee.

Friends of the Crown Mountain Recreation Center was formed in 2009 to work on approval of the facility. Friends of Mid Valley Recreation Center took over those duties for the 2013 election. The nonprofit organization raised its funds through contributions from various individuals in 2009, according to Bob Kaufman, an organizer of the issues committee.

Friends of Mid Valley Recreation Center collected a total of $9,174.90 by the reporting deadline of Oct. 10. The issues committee had spent $6,966.29 through Oct. 10, leaving $2,208.61 on hand.

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The main opposition group, called No on 4C and 4D, collected $2,320 by Oct. 10, its report said. It spent $748.58, leaving it with $1,571.42.

Katie Schwoerer, an organizer of the opposition group, said it is a "loosely formed" grassroots organization with a tiny budget.

"It's David versus Goliath," she said.

The two committees are squaring off over a proposed 63,000-square-foot recreation center at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel. Voters are being asked to approve a $25 million bond issuance to construct the facility. A property tax hike would repay the bonds. A separate tax hike proposal is being sought to raise funds for operations and maintenance.

The itemized contributions in support of the center were made by 29 businesses or individuals, the report showed.

The full list of contributors to Friends of Mid Valley Recreation Center are: Aaron Andersen, of Aspen, $75; Alan Kokish, of Basalt, $50; Basalt Clinic Pharmacy, $100; Cassie Cerise, of Carbondale, $50; Charles Chacos, of Carbondale, $50; Climate Control Co., of Glenwood Springs, $50; Crista Barlow, of Carbondale, $50; Cynthia Serson, of Carbondale, $50; and Eric Johnson, of Glenwood Springs, $50.

Other contributions in support of the recreation center were made by: Jared Mueller, of Breckenridge, $10; Jason Winokur, of Boulder, $50; Kellie Smith, of Carbondale, $50; Mariana Tedin, of Basalt, $50; Marni Bond, of Snowmass Village, $50; Michael Coyle, of Basalt, $50; Samantha Brennan, of Carbondale, $50; Stephanie West, of Glenwood Springs, $50; Susan McCarthy Dorf, of Breckenridge, $10; and Timothy Lindholm, of Snowmass, $193.90.

Other donors were El Jebel Mobile Home Park, $400; Gravity Works LLC, doing business as Thunder River Gymnastics, of Carbondale, $500; Robert Kaufman, of Basalt, $100; Jackie Chenowerth, of Aspen, $20; The UPS Store, of Carbondale, $250; Katherine Lindholm, of Snowmass, $50; Olga Lawson, of Basalt, $20; and Laurie Soliday, of Basalt, $200.

Another $156 was raised in small amounts from individuals, the finance report said. Those contributions were small enough that they didn't have to be itemized.

Smith said in an email that George K. Baum and Co., the bond company that will issue the bonds if the recreation center is approved, provided in-kind service but no cash for the campaign committee.

The major expenditures so far in the campaign by Friends of Mid Valley Recreation Center include about $3,000 on newspaper advertisements; $726.40 for advertising with Live Loud T-shirts, of Basalt; $1,653 with Fast Signs, of Lakewood; and $417.84 with an El Jebel restaurant for food for a kickoff barbecue, the campaign finance report said.

The bulk of the contributions to the group opposed to the recreation center came from two men. Robert Watson, of Tulsa, Okla., and William Tobey, of Snowmass, each gave $1,000, according to the finance report by No to 4C and 4D. Other contributors were Robert Schultz, of Carbondale, $50; Sarah Cole, of Basalt, $200; Suzanne Driggers, of Carbondale, $25; Auden Schendler, of Basalt, $50; and Katie Schwoerer, of Basalt, $20.

The opposition group's only expenditure through Oct. 10 was for newspaper advertising.

The Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District has undertaken voter-education efforts prior to the election, but it has made sure all of its information contains pro and con statements about the ballot question, said district Director Chris Woods. Governmental entities and elected officials in Colorado cannot spend taxpayer money or time in their official capacity lobbying pro or con in an election. Officials can spend personal time on issues.

Jeanette Darnauer, a public-relations consultant for the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District, said the organization has authorized her to spend as much as $3,500 for neutral, informational ads during the campaign. Another $2,500 was authorized for blast emails and other informational efforts, she said.

Mail ballots were sent last week to voters. The election date is Nov. 5.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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