The opposing forces to the proposed new Douglas Rec Center bring up some pretty persuasive arguments, many of which will need to be addressed and dealt with when the time comes. They have pointed out access to the proposed site across Interstate 25 on the Wagonhound development called Seven Trails creates a problem. They have noted the operational costs and user fee revenues are estimates based on similar facilities but could vary greatly. They have balked and expressed shock at the price tag, though some have incorrectly assumed the $75.9 million total bill was for the Douglas project alone instead of for both the Douglas and Glenrock facilities, as well as bonding costs and a $6 million long-term repair fund.
While there are other concerns and questions, those seem to the Big 3 as we head into the last week before the special election.
All are good points, and all are items which the committee looking into the rec center proposal for the last year considered again and again as they haggled over what amenities should be included, what was too expensive either to build now or fund operations, where to build it, and how to provide for the inevitable future expansion when use demands it. The committee worked hard at getting the information out, asking for public input and considering what people wanted versus what the community could afford.
The proposal does not include what many wanted, although some have expressed the idea that it probably includes too much, especially with the indoor water park, flow rider and lazy river. They may be right, but having such one-of-a-kind amenities in Wyoming does make the facility that much more attractive to visitors and residents alike, and the more users you have, the more revenues the facility will make and the less subsidy from the city and county will be needed to operate it.
In the previous few months, we have tackled the Big 3 questions over and over again and attempted to provide answers and a forum for discussion on both sides. Instead of hashing them out again here, we suggest reading the proposals and deciding for yourself.
In the end, though, the decision next Tuesday will come down to this: Do we want new rec centers, new and better opportunities for our youth and ourselves and growing, thriving, progressive communities or not? The Douglas and Glenrock proposals are the lone item on the May 5 ballot; they are joined at the hip and will pass or fail together.
Some of those opposed to the idea say kill it now, yet vote for it when it comes back in a year or two in a more scaled-down version located in a place better suited to their liking.
That is a foolish notion. If you want to see new rec centers in the two communities, vote in favor of them now. There’s no telling if the rec centers would ever come back to the ballot box in the future. But, if they fail and IF they were proposed again some day (note: that’s a big if), we would have wasted two years or more of tax revenue, of construction and of our future. Two years. Wasted.
We have the opportunity next Tuesday to make a statement that we deserve to have the amenities which make our communities a better place to live. We get to set the direction for our future, just as we did two-and-a-half years ago when we approved this same sales tax for two new libraries and a new Eastern Wyoming College/Douglas campus.
It was a smart move then, and it’s a smart move today.