Finding funding for community center up for debate
November 7, 2005
Plans from the Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District to build a new community center are continuing to evolve. At a meeting of the district’s board of directors, which will be held on Thursday night, discussion will be on the proposed $30-million to $40-million, 80,000 square-foot community center. The multi-phase project is planned to include gymnasiums, community-use rooms, an aquatic center with lap and activity pools and a performing arts center.The board is studying conceptual drawings with the intent of developing a master plan soon, according to district general manager Steve Randall. The $8 million first phase will include a two-court gymnasium with suspended running track and locker rooms, he said.”The performing arts center is a hot topic,” Randall said. “Community feedback has shown the desire for a 500-seat theater, which, funds permitting, could potentially come in Phase One.”But with an additional cost of $2 million to $3 million, unless private donors step up to the plate, the arts center option isn’t likely. “It is our feeling that there are people out there that would donate to the cause, but I think they need to see a business plan first,” said Peter Werbel, chairman of the district’s board of directors. Such a document will also be discussed at Thursday’s meeting when the board moves to approve a contract with Venue Tech Management Group to develop the written plan. Without private gifts, the district will most likely raise the needed funds by placing a bond measure on a future ballot, but even that plan is a ways off, according to Werbel. “It will go to a bond issue sooner than later, but we must weigh whether the community is willing to bite the bullet again,” Werbel said. Based on a survey conducted last January for the district by True North Research and Shilts Consultants, that bullet may be in the form of an annual parcel assessment costing about $30 per $100,000 in assessed valuation. That is the rate that 55 percent of the 795 registered voters in Truckee who responded to the survey said they would be willing to pay. Meanwhile, at press time Tuesday residents of Tahoe City were voting on Measure T, a bond that if passed will fund a proposed $22-million recreation center in that community. The cost to homeowners would be nearly $100 per year, with an annual 2 percent increase over the next 30 years to pay bond debt service. Businesses will also be taxed at varied rates. “We never surveyed the exact tax structure that is on [the] ballot,” said Sue Rae Irelan, chair of the Tahoe City Public Utility District’s parks and recreation commission. “We identified how to fairly distribute the tax burden through much public input, workshops, and presentations.” For Truckee, Randall said that plans are set to break ground on the property – located on a triangle-shaped lot between Donner Pass Road, Interstate 80, and Highway 89 north – in the spring of 2006, and for construction to begin in the spring of 2007. The district must build on the land, which was donated to it for community use by East-West Partners at the end of last year, within five years or the property will revert to town ownership. “This board is incredibly pro-active and will do whatever we can to move this project forward as quickly as possible, and we are going to get it done without it being a financial burden, ” Werbel said.