Talianchich Asks For Motion To Limit Rec. Center/Colonial Park Expenditures To $5 Million

June 23, 2008

The West U. Recreation center was again a focus for West U. City council tonight, when Councilman Michael Talianchich asked for a motion to limit expenditures for Colonial Park and Rec. Center improvements to $5 million. The motion failed to garner a second.

Council is currently considering a $15 million November bond referendum for the parks, which includes new buildings at both parks. Talianchich has consistently been at odds with the rest of council concerning the projects, saying the 2007 survey indicated that West U. residents are not interested in a new building on the Rec. Center site.

“I am puzzled here,” said Talianchich. “The only credible, hard evidence we have is a large sample not wanting a building at the Rec. Center. We have a lot of hearsay; we have four committee members and four council members relying on hearsay and focus groups, e-mails. In my opinion, the small samples, they are not large, and what are they listening to the small samples, which have a large probability of error when the only two written ones (the failed $25 million 2006 bond referendum and the 2007 survey) are pretty much correct.”

The 2006 referendum failed with 44 percent voting for the proposed Rec. Center, 56 against.

“What we have done is hire consultants to come in, focus groups, town hall meetings, the survey,” said Mayor Bob Kelly, who said he believes Talianchich interprets the survey results differently than the group hired by the city to perform the survey. “We have done everything we can, including putting this on the agenda at every meeting to get citizen input…I don’t have any problem at all with anyone expressing their own personal opinion – I do take affront when someone accuses council of ignoring what the citizens of West U. want.”

Kelly also said that regardless of council’s decision on the matter, West U. residents will ultimately decide what they want if the referendum is on the November ballot.

Councilman Chuck Guffey asked Parks and Recreation Director Tim O’Conner and City Manager Michael Ross to present council with a breakdown of the proposed Rec. Center building.

“I think there may be a feeling the Rec. Center is overdone,” said Guffey. “I am not sure it is needed. I think the new building is rather large – that is almost all extra space. I think it needs to be justified. I would like to see a workshop on that building.”

The Rec. Center proposal includes building a 22,300 sq. ft. building to replace the aging 17,500 sq. ft. building. The building would have a second story covering about half of the first story. 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 a smaller Colonial Park building

Talianchich commented that in Europe “there are buildings that are 700 years old,” and that the current Rec. Center could continue to be repaired as needed. Kelly equated that to throwing money into a “black hole.”

O’Conner told council that he will create a presentation for council with a breakdown of square footage and use for the proposed Rec. Center.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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