Mid-Valley Recreation Center?

Oct 21, 2013

Credit Crown Mountain Recreation District

  This week we are looking at the various tax increase questions before voters next month.  One of the largest projects in the valley seeking voter approval is the proposed recreation center in Basalt.  The indoor facility would be built in the Crown Mountain Park. Aspen Public Radio's Roger Adams reports.

“For me, I think it’s a great amenity, I think its an amenity for everyone who lives here and I think it’s the next step in the progression of any community.”

Bob Kaufman has been working on the rec center idea for six years and finally, he says, the question will go before the community itself.  He envisions being able to take fitness classes or swim year round in a state of the art center that, above all, is close to his home in Basalt.  Like Kaufman, Amy Conrardy has been working to get a rec center since her son was two years old.  He is now nine.

“I’ve been diving up to Snowmass for years and I live in Basalt and it’s a very frustrating thing to have to drive to Glenwood or to Snowmass or to Aspen to recreate.”

Conrardy and Kaufman are members of the Friends of the Crown Mountain Recreation Center the support group responsible for yards signs throughout the Crown Mountain District.  The group also maintains a website with colorful descriptions of what the center would look like.  The 63-thousand square foot center would have two pools, a basketball court, fitness room, weight room, indoor running track and much more.  And, all of this, for what supporters say is an affordable cost.

Its this point, the cost, that is at the heart of the dispute between critics and supporters of a mid-Valley recreation center.   Not everyone agrees it is worth the money.  Among them is Old Snowmass Resident Andy Wiessner.

“I became interested in this when the Crown Mountain Rec District sent round the four color flyer earlier this summer and I was looking at it and went…’Wow, this is pretty elaborate.”

Soon Wiessner was talking with Katie Schwoerer

“I live in Basalt, so my taxes would increase by almost ten percent and that is a significant tax increase for a facility I know I won’t use.

Schwoerer created an issue group opposed to the center called “No on 4C and 4D,” those are the titles of the two ballot questions that must pass for the rec center to become a reality.  She calls the measures a massive tax increase.  Everyone who lives in the Crown Mountain Recreation District would be taxed under the proposal.  It is a large area that crosses multiple municipal and taxing district boundaries.  It stretches from Missouri Heights to Old Snowmass where  Andy Wiessner lives.  He called the tax assessors for Pitkin and Eagle counties to ask what the property tax impacts would be.

“And, what they told us in a nutshell was the following; if these two measures pass the total impact would be to increase your current property taxes by 11 percent if you live in Old Snowmass, Emma, Missouri Heights, El Jebel, i.e. in Eagle County or up the Frying Pan River and, if you are a resident of Basalt by 9-point-6 percent.”

If you’ve been reading letters to the editor in the Aspen Times and Daily News in the past month you have seen a range of numbers and perhaps some confusion about the tax increase. Unlike Andy Wiessner the district itself doesn’t use percentages. Crown Mountain Recreation District’s Executive Director is Chris Woods.  He has been tasked with putting out the legal facts for the community.

“The easiest way to describe it; its 5 dollars and 51 cents per month per a 100-thousand dollar house.”

Woods is quick to add that there are few, if indeed any, homes in the mid-valley that are valued at 100-thousand dollars.

“We do that with advice from our financial advisors because people can do the math.  People can times it by 4.5, 4.7, whatever they need to do.”

The tax increases would pay for two things.  One increase, ballot question 4-D would fund the actual construction of the rec center.  That tax would end after the center was built and paid for.  The second question on the ballot, 4-C, would be an ongoing property tax increase to pay for the operation and maintenance of the center.   What the taxes would not pay for is the fees to actually use the rec center.  A single adult would pay 5-hundred and 40 dollars and a family 8-hundred and 64 dollars for a yearly pass.  Woods says, as an employee of the Recreation District, putting the proposal to a vote was the right course to take.  Regardless of the outcome, recreation will continue at Crown Mountain Park.

“Its totally up to the community and if they want it we’ll move forward.  If not we have a fantastic park there hat’s I’m really proud of and we’ve been working really hard for the last year and a half making this park really what it should be.”

Tomorrow (Wednesday 10-23-2013) at this time, we’ll look at another ballot measure before voters in the mid-Valley, 2B.  The measure, if passed will allow the Town of Basalt to raise property taxes if the town is unable to pay off a planned bond issue to remove the Pan and Fork trailer park and restore the riverside.  On Thursday (10-24-2013) we will look at the total impacts on sales and property taxes by all the tax measures on the ballot.

More Information:

From the Recreation District

http://www.crownmtn.org/rec-center/

From the Aspen Times:

http://www.aspentimes.com/news/8540097-113/recreation-center-tax-property

http://www.aspentimes.com/news/8550720-113/recreation-district-center-annual