Gary Scott, standing left, and Mark Hall, right, explain costs and details of a recreation center Monday evening that will be placed before voters on May 10 for approval. To keep costs down, Hall told the group a pool will not be part of the package. However, he said, it does not rule out a pool in the future – if the construction of a recreation center is approved. Monday evening was the last meeting to plan for the construction of the recreation center. The next step, Hall said, was to let the community know what the recreation center consists of in hopes they will approve it in May. L&T Photo/Jessica Crawford
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
Approximately two dozen people gathered Monday evening to discuss the final details of a $6.5 million recreation center to be funded with the 1-cent sales tax. A recreation center will only be constructed if approved by the public during the May 10 special election. The debate regarding whether or not a pool will be included in the package continued. Ultimately, however, it was decided upon that a pool will not be part of the prospective project.
City Manager Mark Hall explained to the group that a pool is not fiscally responsible. He also said that adding a pool to the project would take away a great deal of options that the recreation center may offer. However, he did say that, possibly in the future, a pool could be added to the recreation center.
“If this doesn’t pass, you will never get a pool,” Hall said. “If it does pass, because it is reaching more members of the community – some day, maybe we could add a pool. But, no rec center, no pool – ever. You have got to have this first.”
Hall said the best way to get the recreation center concept to pass would be to attract as many citizens as possible.
“We are going for putting the most people in the rec center as possible,” he said. “The more people that look at it and say, ‘there is something for me,’ the more people will vote for it.”
Hall said the pricetag for the recreation center will be $6.5 million. The city has agreed to pay a downpayment of $1 million. Then out of the 1-cent sales tax fund, a yearly payment of $700,000 will be paid over a period of 10 years. With an interest rate of 5.5 percent, a grand total of $8 million will ultimately be paid for the project.
Hall said there are five very important factors that must be taken into consideration regarding the ultimate construction of a recreation center:
o It will be dedicated to all of the citizens of Liberal;
o It must serve the largest percentage of Liberal’s population;
o It will not restrict any portion of the 1-cent sales tax;
o The budget will come from streets and drainage and the capital improvement portion of the 1-cent sales tax; and
o It must be supported by memberships – it must be self-sustaining.
Membership fees were decided upon Monday evening. A day pass will cost $6, an adult monthly pass will be $27, a child’s monthly pass will be $17, a couple will be charged $44 per month, families of four will be charged $68 with an additional $17 for each family member beyond four. Senior citizens will be charged $17.
It was also determined that children 14 years of age or younger must be accompanied by a parent.
Hall has contacted cities with similar facilities and conservatively speaking, Liberal can expect 2,000 members with an average cost of $27 per member in membership fees. These numbers, Hall said, will keep the center self-sufficient. Doing so, will keep the city out of the taxpayers’ pockets.
“Our priority is for this to be self-sustaining,” Hall said. “And that is the bottom line.”
A recreation center complete with basketball courts, volleyball courts, tennis courts, weight rooms, walking or running three-lane track as well as classrooms will be taken to the voters on May 10. The 100,000 square foot building, Hall believes, will serve the largest amount of people in the community.
“With some debate and agreement in the end, the 100,000 square-foot facility which contains all of the things mentioned, will be presented to the community with an operational cost of $526,000 and a $6.5 million price tag,” Hall said. “This will go to a vote May 10.”
So far, Stadium Rd. and Eighth St., near the Kids Inc. building is the desired site of the recreation center, should it pass. However, a concrete decision has yet to be made in regards to location.