Council To Hear First Reading Of Ordinance Calling For Bond Election

July 24, 2008

West U. City Council will vote Monday night on approval of the first reading of an ordinance calling for a Nov. 4 bond election. On the ballot would be the final $13.8 million plan for renovations of Colonial Park and the West U. Recreation Center.

The vote will take place during council’s regular session at 6:30 p.m. at the municipal building, 3800 University Blvd.

The second and final reading of the ordinance will take place at the August 11 meeting, which leaves one meeting before the September deadline.

At the last council meeting, council members discussed whether the ordinance should call for separate propositions for both parks, or one proposition dealing with both. Councilman Michael Talianchich was the lone supporter of separate propositions for each park.

“I think getting this down to a $13.8 million proposition is a reasonable one, particularly with the needs put forth here,” said Mayor Bob Kelly. “I see it as one that should be up or down on both facilities at the same time to the voters. I think that’s the logical way to handle it, it’s all so interrelated.”

Talianchich indicated that he would like a vote on the matter, but Petrov said that was not possible, as there was no action indicated on the agenda. Talianchich then indicated that he would prefer to voice his opinion at the regular session in council chambers, and was told by Kelly he would have the ability to do so in both meetings.

“I think a vast majority of people want to see some improvement at Colonial,” said Talianchich. “I think it would be a shame to have nothing come out of this by putting them all in one basket. We should be thinking seriously about operating cost to run this expensive building. Is it really necessary to go to such an extent? I think if we split it up we will get something out of this – if we put it all in one package, we may lose out.”

Talianchich has historically opposed a new building at the Rec. Center, citing a need for green space, overzealous spending and what he perceives as a lack of support for a new Rec. Center from the community. Talianchich has requested at several meeting that a $5 million proposal also be on the November ballot.

The original estimate came in at just under $15 million, but the parks subcommittee went back to the drawing board after an early June workshop, eventually presenting to the Parks and Recreation Board the current $13.8 million plan. The plan was approved by a 7-1 vote of the parks board last Wednesday.

A $25 million bond referendum in 2006 failed with 44 percent voting for the proposed Rec. Center, 56 percent against.

“The difference between this bond election and the last one is we have done a better job of communicating what we are doing and why we are doing it,” said Councilman Bob Fry during council’s regular session. “I want to compliment the (parks) subcommittee – I think that’s going to be the difference this time around.”

The revised plans include a new building a pool at the community center and a new building and pool at the Rec. Center. Colonial Park proposals include decreasing the building from 6,000 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft., increasing the size of the pool from 4,000 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft. and using it as an outdoor-only pool. The pool would be focused on family oriented swimming, with a zero-depth entrance and a splash area for infants and toddlers.

The Rec. Center proposal includes building a 20,800 sq. ft. building to replace the aging 17,500 sq. ft. building. The Rec. Center pool, aimed at instructional, fitness and swim meet purposes, would be in a building in which the sides could be pulled up during warm months, with the pool remaining covered year round. The Colonial Park racquetball courts, weight room and cardio studio would be moved to the Rec. Center, which allows for the smaller Colonial Park building.

The parks subcommittee pared down the cost of their initial recommendation in June by keeping the diving boards at the Colonial Park pool in response to resident feedback, which eliminated a $600,000 cost from the Rec. Center proposal. The final proposal for the Rec. Center was also trimmed by 1,500 sq. ft., lowering the estimate by $200,000. An additional $300,000 was eliminated by not including the field area at the Rec. Center in the furnishings estimate.

City Finance Director Walter Thomas previously presented council with tax estimates for $5 million, $10 million and $15 million in bonds. If a bond election passed for $15 million, it is estimated that residents will pay an additional $84 a year through 2013, at which point the taxes will continue to decrease through 2019 as property values increase and the city retires infrastructure replacement debt. Taxes for a $600,000 home in 2009 are estimated at 0.1940, and are estimated to drop to 0.1678 by 2019.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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