Archive for Thursday, May 11, 2006

Council OKs rec center referendum

May 11, 2006

After mulling the final form of a pool recreation complex for two weeks, the Eudora City Council gave the nod to put the project before the voters.

The Aug. 1 referendum will ask the citizens to pay for the $3.8 million center through a half-cent sales tax and what bond consultants see as a maximum 3 mill tax increase.

"The primary force payment is the half-cent sales tax," City Administrator Cheryl Beatty told the council.

As new business and residents move in, the overall mill increase would fluctuate, Beatty said.

"That would make the mill less and less," Beatty said.

Beatty said there was a possibility there could be an increase exceeding three mills.

"It could, but it's unlikely because it's based on the assumption of a half-cent sales tax first," Beatty said.

The project will encompass a pool with water slide and a recreation center that will include both meeting rooms for the community and a regulation-sized basketball court.

"It's all or nothing," Beatty said.

Councilman Scott Hopson said he saw an advantage this pool held over another referendum that failed for a pool in 2004.

"I think some of the people last time that voted against the pool will vote hopefully for this pool because of the community building," Hopson said. "Older people might not want to go tohe pool, but they might want to go to the community building."

The community building would give older citizens a place to work out, Hopson said.

"As you look around in this room, we don't have room for a community building here anymore," Hopson said.

In the past, the city council chambers have been used as a gathering place for local organization meetings and other things.

Beatty said she has had mostly positive input about the project.

"The biggest negative comment I've had is that it's not an indoor pool," Beatty said.

An indoor pool would be too expensive to maintain, Beatty said.

A citizen committee charged with the conceptual development of the pool complex looked at the possibility of bringing in the YMCA ---- an organization that would make the indoor pool a reality.

The YMCA would require 2,000 members to open its doors in Eudora.

Beatty told the council Eudora has only about 2,000 utility hook ups, including both residential and business.

"Every single household or person would have to be a member. It's just not financially feasible to have an indoor pool in such a small community," Beatty said.

Eudora Mayor Tom Pyle said he thought very few young people would use the indoor pool.

They want to swim outdoors in the summer and in the winter they would be busy in other sports, Pyle said.

"You'd just be killing yourself financially," Pyle said. "There's no reason to try something like this. We're not that big of a city."

Beatty also returned to the council with research she conducted comparing the Eudora pool project with the new aquatic center opening in De Soto.

"De Soto's new pool is slightly bigger than ours," Beatty said. "It contains the same amenities like slides and water features."

Councilman Bill Whitten made the motion to notify the county of the August referendum despite a preference voters consider the rec center and pool separately.

"I'd like to see it broken up, but if it doesn't work this time, we can do that in the future," Whitten said.

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