City Manager Mark Hall, left, explains one of the three possible locations for a prospective recreation center that will go before voters on May 10 during Monday evening’s feasibilty meeting. This particular location is just west of the Seward County Activity Center. North Blue Bonnet Park is another possibility, but the possibility currently with the most support is Seventh St. and Industrial Park Ave. L&T photo/Jessica Crawford
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
With the last two meetings regarding the planning of a possible recreation center absent of participants, Monday night brought out more than 40 people with opinions and concerns to get the ball rolling in regards to the planning process.
City Manager Mark Hall, first and foremost, made it clear to all present and all who may hear of Monday evening’s discussion that a prospective recreation center, that will be voted upon May 10, would be paid for with 1-cent sales tax funds.
“This is kind of a positive note to people, because they know their property taxes won’t go up,” Hall said. “We hope to spin this on a positive note, this 1-cent sales tax is to do great things in our community and make our community better. Getting that word out to people is very difficult because they think of property taxes. So, we ask your help in spreading that word – this is not property tax-funded, this is the 1- cent sales tax.”
Hall then explained the purpose of the meetings that will take place every Monday until the end of February, and exactly what information he wanted from those present.
“This is a positive process to get information,” he said. “Everyone has the opportunity to speak what they want, but the end result will be determined by all of these meetings. This is a positive meeting to come up with what this facility should have.”
Hall then asked participants to decide what sports should be in the facility by a raise of hands. Basketball and a running/walking track both won out with 30 people voting for each sport. Soccer, volleyball and tennis fell shortly behind.
Hall then asked those present what type of activities they would like to see in a facility such as a community recreation center. Boxing, swimming, dancing, zumba, aqua aerobics, exercise machines and weights were suggested.
Some suggestions for possible classes were also discussed among participants. Health and nutrition classes, arts and crafts, computers, cooking and self-help were some suggestions.
The next item discussed was a projected cost for a monthly membership of the recreation center. For adults, a $20 per month fee seemed reasonable for those present. However, some concern was expressed for those that may be in a lower income bracket than those making suggestions at the meeting. Dr. Julio Jiminez felt keeping a price fair for those of all economic status’ in the community was a important factor.
“I’m looking around at economic status,” he said. “Are you doing this for the lower, middle or upper class? If you ask me right now if I would pay $35, yeah, I would pay $35. But, then you ask someone else, and they may not be able to pay five bucks.”
Next discussed was at what age a child can be before he or she is allowed to attend the facility without being accompanied by a parent or guardian. The ages of 11 and 14 seemed to get the highest votes from those present.
Hours of operation, according to the group, would best serve the community if the recreation center were open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Next order of business – location, location, location. Although much discussion ensued, the majority agreed the best possible location would be Seventh St. and Industrial Park Ave. – just west of the Kids Inc. building.
But, even though many discussions and preferences were voiced, this is the first meeting of many that are scheduled. By Feb. 28, Hall expects a package to be ready to present to the voters.
“Feb. 28, that is where we are crossing our fingers that we will have a facility, cost and operational costs and then we can go to the tax payers,” Hall said. “So everybody knows what they are voting on.”
The next meeting will take place at 7 p.m., Monday at the Blue Bonnet Park Recreation Center.