Community recreation center

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A grassroots group is trying to garner support to build a community recreation center in Bud Cross Park, as well as form a south coast county parks and recreation district.

The proposed two-story recreation center would be built around the existing pool at Bud Cross. The first floor would include a gymnasium, a community exercise room, a child care center, a reception area, locker rooms, a great hall and the pool. The second floor would house an elevated walking track and a wellness center equipped with lifting weights and exercise machines, as well as the building’s mechanical rooms. The drawings of the proposed building features walls of windows and a sleek, angled roof.

Jay Trost, deputy director of public works and development service for the city of Brookings, presented the dual-faceted proposal to the Curry County Board of Commissioners during a workshop meeting last Wednesday. He said the recreation center would be a tremendous asset to the entire county.

“This is a legacy project, this is something that would be here to stay, to stand and provide important access to so many different citizens from young to elevated in age,” said Trost.

The proposal also included the formation of a south county parks and recreation district, which would be bounded by Pistol River to the north and the county line to the south.

Dr. Juliane Leighton said the formation of a parks and recreation district would help the organization of athletics, activities and events.

“We have lots of parks. What we really need in the community are recreation programs and recreation facilities,” said Leighton. “We just don’t have in our community a centralized service where you know what’s happening.”

Court Boice, chair of the board of commissioners, backed the proposal. Vice Chair John Herzog, who was a lifeguard at the municipal pool when it first opened in the early ’70s, followed suit.

“I am a huge proponent of this...I know it’s a tough sell because special districts is a bad word around, but I’m in favor of getting the special district and letting the voters decide ‘yay’ or ‘nay’,” said Herzog. “We have a pool that is open three months a year...maybe four if we beg borrow and steal, and it’s just sad.”

Herzog was alluding to how the construction of a community center would get its primary funding through the formation of a special district tax, which would be put to the voters. If approved, a bond would be issued for the construction costs. The recreation center could be maintained through user fees, donations and grants, said Leighton.

However, a permanent tax rate would be required to sustain the proposed south county parks and recreation district, and a feasibility study is ongoing to determine that rate.

Commissioner Chris Paasch supported the proposal, on the condition that a sunset provision was written in, meaning the special district would expire automatically at some point, and that it would be reexamined at that time.

He was also worried about this proposal being rejected by the voters due to an overload of projects on the horizon, including a new courthouse and a jail, as well as supplementary funding for the sheriff’s department. Both of those projects could also be funded through a special district tax, he said.

“I’m just afraid that it’s going to become a watered down thing in the county... I’m wondering how much that our voters can take of it,” said Paasch.

Trost said the group will move forward either by petitioning for signatures or asking the board of commissioners to adopt a measure to put it on the November ballot directly, the latter option would require a public comment period.

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