Proponents of midvalley rec center pushing issue |

Proponents of midvalley rec center pushing issue

Aspen Times Staff
Aspen, CO Colorado

EL JEBEL ” Proponents of a midvalley recreation center hope to get a question seeking a property tax increase onto the ballot possibly as soon as May.

The MidValley Metropolitan District got the discussion rolling this summer by hiring a consultant that conducted a survey of midvalley residents to find if they supported a facility and, if so, what they want in it.

The recreation consultant, GreenPlay LLC, followed up with a public meeting in El Jebel last week that drew about 75 people. Many of them expressed support for the recreation center.

Bill Reynolds, executive director of the metro district, said he wants to harness that enthusiasm and form a committee that would take the lead in getting a facility built. The goal is to form a nonprofit that can work with residents and the consultant to come up with a design for the facility, then lead a campaign to secure funding.

Chris Dropinski, a principal partner in GreenPlay, said the midvalley rec center is in the preliminary planning stage so many details must still be determined. Here is what’s known:

* Land adjacent to Crown Mountain Park emerged from the public meeting as the preferred site. An alternative near Blue Lake didn’t provide as good access and could cause more disruptions to the neighborhood. Eagle County’s blessing would be necessary to use the land and approve development of a recreation facility. In addition, a congressional act limits the development potential on the former U.S. Forest Service tree farm. The federal government traded land to Eagle and Pitkin counties in the 1990s.

* An indoor pool, cardio equipment, fitness classes and weight-training equipment are in high demand among prospective users, according to the survey in June and the public meeting. The survey showed that 53 percent of voters supported a property tax increase to pay for construction and operation of a recreation center, while 30 percent were opposed and 17 percent were uncertain. Dropinski said that is solid support, considering there has been no campaigning.

* A public vote is necessary before any property tax increase. While the May 2008 election “would be great,” Reynolds said, there is still a lot of work that remains before the issue is ripe for the ballot.

There will be a meeting in October to form the steering committee and advance the plan, Reynolds said. That meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet.