Rifle recreation and community center benefits outweigh the costs | PostIndependent.com

Rifle recreation and community center benefits outweigh the costs

Guest Column
Committee for the Rifle Recreation and Community Center

One cent on a $2 cup of coffee. Twenty-nine cents for a $40 pair of work pants.

If this doesn’t sound like much to you, it’s because it’s not. That’s all it would cost you – or any other shopper in Rifle – to have a recreation and community center in your city. All you have to do is vote “yes” for the facility in the municipal election on Sept. 10.

What you’ll get for your “yes” vote is a facility located at Metro Park (replacing the outdoor swimming pool). The facility will include an indoor track, gymnasium, lap pool, leisure pool, tennis courts, places for people to “hang out,” group fitness rooms and a gymnastics studio. A 2009 survey of Rifle citizens showed these amenities to be the most important to our community, which is why they’ve been included in the initial design.

Construction of this facility is estimated to be $21 million, which would be paid through a bond; the bond would then be paid off with sales tax revenue. The Rifle Regional Economic Development Corporation (the same people who brought you the Brenden Theatres) spent the past couple of years researching options on how to fund this facility. Other options explored included a property tax and private funding. However, a property tax would disproportionately affect business and property owners in Rifle. As for outside funding, while many sources are available (such as grants or donations from government, businesses and foundations), none of these funds are available until a project is actually under way.

If Rifle voters agree, there will be a 0.74 percent increase in sales tax, which means that shoppers in Rifle would pay an extra $0.74 for every $100 worth of goods purchased. This is a small price to pay for the amenities we would all receive in return.

The Rifle Fitness Center, which is jointly operated by the city and the economic development corporation, is already at maximum capacity. Memberships to the fitness center in the past year have doubled. What’s more, the lease for that building is set to expire next year, and there is no plan to continue its operation.

Although the Rifle No More TAXES group would have you believe otherwise, the cost-benefit ratio of a recreation and community center is heavily weighted on the benefit side. The proposed facility would provide Rifle-area residents with a place of their own to exercise, including year-round lap and leisure pools. But more than that, it would also grant us opportunities to engage with our fellow community members. The facility will have designated meeting spots for teenagers and senior citizens alike to hang out and enjoy the company of their peers.

Rifle’s economy will also benefit from having a recreation and community center. Similar facilities have proven to be economic engines in small towns. Ours is no exception – we could host sports tournaments (including swim meets), arts and crafts shows, conferences and other events. Imagine the economic boost Rifle would see from 100 young athletes and their families descending on Rifle for a weekend-long swim meet (restaurants, hotels, etc.).

A recreation and community center would also make Rifle a more appealing place to live. It could motivate businesses and potential employees to relocate to our town. Talk about job creation!

Please review all the facts and mail your ballot with a “yes” vote by Sept. 10. Visit our website at riflerecandcommunitycenter.com or our Facebook page (Rifle Recreation and Community Center) for more information.

Submitted by Angela Strode, co-chair of the Committee for the Rifle Recreation and Community Center.

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