Letter: Years of planning, hard work went into rec center idea
I became the recreation director for the city of Rifle in 1999. The first thing I noticed was lack of a recreation center. I wanted to bring this gift to Rifle.
I fought to have a recreation center included in the 2005 tax, but conceded when I realized the tax collected would not support the construction and operation of the center in addition to current operations. We included “planning for a recreation center”. As we planned for the center, we built a skate park, ball fields, Centennial Park, trails, playgrounds, pool improvements and more to catch up on other needs.
The next chance was when Elevation Partners were going to develop the old Valley Lumber site. The developers understood the draw and economics of the center. Unfortunately, the economic downturn happened.
However, the citizens were not going to stop trying. A needs survey was completed in 2004 and 2009. The same questions were asked in both and the recreation center was still a need. We used those to design the most cost effective center with the most requested amenities.
Without community support, such as passing a tax, outside funding would not be available. If the community isn’t willing to help themselves, why should others help? I believe that once the tax passes, other organizations will show their financial support.
Almost all of the grants available are not for construction. Bringing in over $3 million in grants, I searched to find funds to build this center. I found that not much is out there.
The final outcome, after years of planning, was to ask the voters for a .74 percent sales tax increase. There really is no other way to fund it.
It was bittersweet to leave Rifle in May 2013. I do not have a dog in this race. To sum it all up for residents, if you want a recreation center, vote yes with confidence that many years of planning and hard work went into this idea. If not, you won’t have one for decades to come. Good luck Rifle.
Villa Park, Ill.
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