Letter: Rec center: there are other options
October 30, 2013
Having a gym with multiple indoor pools and an indoor track is a wonderful thing. However, in the contest to one-up Aspen, some midvalley residents, like borrowers given a new line of credit, can't wait to sign up for a 20-year debt obligation to obtain an expensive luxury which will be used by a few but paid for by all.
The indoor rec center will cost taxpayers an 11 percent tax increase amounting to more than $20,000 over the 20-year period — and that doesn't include admissions fees.
When I read about new mountain bike trails, improvements on the Rio Grande Trail or new open space acquisitions to allow for more recreational opportunities, I get excited. That's what makes our area special. An indoor rec center … hmm, well, not so much, especially given the costs.
City parks, trails and open space are paid for and maintained by public funds. Everyone is taxed for them and they consistently need public funding to remain solvent. And while our valley residents have overwhelmingly been in support on funding parks, trails and open space, the support for an indoor rec center, at this location, is lukewarm at best.
Last May when the idea was floated before voters, only 32 percent of Old Snowmass and 44 percent of Basalt residents voted in favor of the facility.
That could be because Old Snowmass residents don't feel the need to drive 10-plus miles to go running on an indoor track.
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Basalt residents might feel it would be of more value if it were in close proximity to where the schools are located. Will kids take RFTA buses to go swimming after classes? And pay for the privilege? (admission is not free). I'm not sure of that.
Where it's located, I'm guessing the facility will sit empty during the day most of the year. It will be a money loser from Day One. There's not a large enough population base to be able to recoup costs from admissions, and in 10 to 15 years, there will be a need for another bond to pay to have the pools redone.
There is no shortage of places to go to swimming in our valley, or to work-out indoors. With these tough economic times, the rec center taxes will be a large burden on businesses, which pay three times more taxes than individuals, put an unnecessary hardship on many taxpayers, especially those nearing retirement; and divert funds for core services, like fire, police and schools. Once the beautiful jewel that is Crown Mountain Park is further developed, and carved up with roads and more parking lots, you will not get it back. Think twice about this one.
Vote "no" on 4C and 4D.
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