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Many unanswered questions on proposed rec center

Bryan E. DeVoe

After recent letters to editor regarding the New Community Center, I attended the March 9 meeting of the Truckee Donner Recreation & Parks Department Board of directors to check out what is going on. Item 4.2 on the agenda was labeled Community Center, this is misleading, item 4.2 should have been labeled Large Gymnasium. Listed as Phase One is the gym, estimated cost $12,544,245, on the Master Plan. The gym will be built before the much more needed Community Center/ Administration Complex. Phase Two will include the center, pool and theater $48,462,786. Now these dollars are plus or minus a couple of million for possible revisions. In today’s dollars that is $470 to $500 per square foot for the gym. Add the two phases up and you get $ 61,007,031. A guest speaker, invited by the board, from Tahoe Donner who recently was part of the team for the new restaurant in Tahoe Donner stated to the board that they needed to take these numbers and double them in anticipation of cost increases. That is $122,041,062, and the rec board did not even blink or discuss this possibility. They are entertaining the idea of hiring a professional fundraiser to hit up the community for these funds. Anyone see the story in last Saturdays Sacramento Bee about a burned persons camp that used one and only got $1 out every $4 raised? They are also looking at raising funds through some grants and using a ballot initiative to assess more taxes on property owners.I asked the board that with every new large housing development that is being built with their own amenities that will equal or exceed their plans, like Grays Crossing, Old Greenwood and Northstar, do we really need this massive undertaking, will we have the people that will use it? Did not get a straight answer, since this meeting was run without much controlled direction. I did get an answer from Director McCall when I asked if there is a plan B should they not get the funds. He stated, and no other director spoke, that they would build nothing. Guess that’s it’s my ball and if I don’t get my way I’lltake it and go home. Another person asked an awesome question: Will this project be so expensive that the fees to use it will also be to expensive for people to use? And what about the costs to maintain and operate this facility? It was stated that to maintain and operate the pool, it would take 460 swim birthdays parties a month to support the pool. As for the theater, there is a possibility that it would be built as a black box theater and it would have to be done with private funds. Friends, we need to attend the rec board meeting regarding this issue. They are acting on a survey that got only 600 responses and with a possible $122,014,062 of our money at stake in a community of around 16,000, we really need to get involved. Ask them questions like why not buy Sierra Mountain Middle School and convert it to a rec center, or what happens if you build this complex and the revenue does not meet the needs to operate and maintain it? I believe the property given to the rec department by East West has a stipulation that they have a small window of opportunity to use it or loose it. The rec department claims to have the $12 million to build the gym now, but what we need is a new community center and performing arts complex that fits the needs and wants of our community not a gym. Don’t spend $12 million to just hold on to the property.Bryan E. DeVoe is a Truckee resident.


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