Letter: Rec center a costly endeavor | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Rec center a costly endeavor

Rec center a costly endeavor

Pitkin and Eagle County voters who reside within the Crown Mountain Recreation District will soon be receiving mail-in ballots (you can also vote at polling places on Nov. 5) asking them to approve two property tax increases to build and operate the midvalley indoor recreation center near City Market in El Jebel.

If you live in Old Snowmass, Emma or Eagle County, the two ballot measures combined will increase your current property taxes by roughly 11 percent. If you live in Basalt, the increase will be 9.6 percent. Those percentage figures are from the Pitkin and Eagle county assessors’ offices, and constitute very large tax increases by any measure.

While I have nothing but respect for the well-intentioned folks at the recreation district, what they are proposing is excessive. If the two tax increases pass and you live in Pitkin County, you will end up paying more in taxes to the Crown Mountain Recreation District than you currently pay in taxes to support any of the following: Aspen Valley Hospital, Basalt Fire District, Basalt Library, Colorado Mountain College, county human services, county roads and bridges, the Healthy Community Fund, or Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. Should indoor recreational facilities receive more of our tax dollars than those other truly essential public services?

As proposed, the rec center will comprise a total of 63,000 square feet (1.5 acres) to include: three indoor swimming pools (lap pool, recreation pool and a “lazy river” pool), a multi-purpose gym, a separate gymnastics/Zero Gravity Gym; an elevated indoor running track, weight room, fitness room, senior center, party/meeting rooms, a catering kitchen/party room, locker rooms and a sun deck.

Your property taxes will pay to build and operate all this, but there will also be an $8 to $10 admission fee for each visit. With four recreation centers already open to the public between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, do we really need another one — especially one as lavish as this proposal? Wouldn’t the money more wisely be spent on better schools, teacher salaries or improved mental health care?

Our valley already has some of the finest outdoor recreational facilities and opportunities in the world. Indoor swimming pools and gyms are nice amenities, but at what cost? I support Pitkin County Commissioner George Newman and numerous others in urging a “no” vote on ballot issues 4C and 4D. An 11 percent property tax increase is simply too much.

Andy Wiessner

Old Snowmass

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