Midvalley rec center proponents offer numbers
Proponents of a midvalley recreation center contend that sales of passes, various fees for service and rental of facilities will raise nearly $1 million annually and cover 67 percent of annual expenses.
The 63,100-square-foot facility proposed in El Jebel would require a taxpayer subsidy to cover the remaining $478,000 in projected operating costs, according to figures released Monday night at a public-outreach meeting.
The proposed indoor center will have estimated total annual expenses of about $1.46 million, according to the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District, which is heading the planning for the project.
The district has released copious details of revenue and expense projections as well as proposed fees for memberships and classes in response to criticism from some observers that the facility will be too expensive and unsustainable. The Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District previously released plans for how the facility will be laid out and what types of activities will be offered.
The recreation center is proposed at Crown Mountain Park, a popular collection of athletic fields, walking paths, tennis courts and open space south of the main El Jebel intersection on Highway 82. The recreation center would be west, or downvalley, from the existing Eagle County office and community building.
Crown Mountain officials met with about 50 curious midvalley residents in an open-house meeting Monday night. Chris Woods, executive director of the park-and-recreation district, said he is meeting with as many neighborhood and civic groups as possible before May 20, when the district and its bonding company will send out a survey gauging voter sentiment about the proposal. The Recreation District’s board of directors has until the end of August to determine if it will approach voters in November for approval of funding.
The center would require approval of $25 million in bonds for construction. A property tax of 5 mills would be necessary to repay the bonds. Another 2.5 mills in property tax would be sought to raise the $478,000 annual subsidy needed for operations. An existing property tax is paying off construction of the park facilities and the ongoing maintenance. If the indoor recreation center is approved, the total property tax on a house valued at $300,000 would be $179.28 annually to support Crown Mountain. The owners of a house valued at $400,000 would pay $239.04 annually to support Crown Mountain Park and the recreation center. A house valued at $500,000 would produce a property tax of $298.80 annually for Crown Mountain facilities.
One member of the audience at Monday’s meeting handed out fliers that put the tax hike in greater perspective. The man, who declined to give his name, said the annual tax bill for an Eagle County homeowner with a house valued at $500,000 would be $2,980.40 if the recreation center is approved. His point, he said, is that individual tax increases might not appear imposing, but collectively they take a big chunk of change out of homeowners’ pockets.
There would be a fee to use the recreation facilities, in addition to the property tax. An adult resident of the taxing district would pay $54 for a monthly pass or $540 per year for regular admission. Additional fees would be charged for fitness classes. Family, youth and senior rates also will be offered.
The audience at Monday’s meeting was mostly curious, and few comments were offered. One man who didn’t identify himself asked why the recreation center wouldn’t operate in the black. Woods replied that it is viewed as a “community amenity” that justifies the public funding.
No recreation centers in surrounding towns operate in the black. The Aspen Recreation Center’s revenue covers 48 percent of its annual expenses. It requires a $1.23 million subsidy from the city’s general fund. The center includes an indoor ice rink that drastically increases expenses over what is planned in El Jebel.
The Glenwood Springs Community Center covers 56 percent of its expenses through its revenue. It required $895,542 in a subsidy last year. That facility includes an outdoor ice rink, a major expense not included at El Jebel.
The Carbondale Community Center covers 57 percent of its $734,000 in expenses through its revenue.
For more information on what is proposed for facilities and programs at the proposed Midvalley Recreation Center, go to http://www.midvalleyreccenter.com.
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A more than $2 million expansion of the Pitkin County Landfill slated to add between six and eight years of life to the facility, which is rapidly running out of room, is nearly complete.