02/09/10 — Input required: Recreation Center is looking dangerously close to a done deal

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Input required: Recreation Center is looking dangerously close to a done deal

It is coming very close to the "or forever hold your peace" time if you have anything to say about the city's plans to build a recreation center downtown.

It is beginning to look like all that is left to decide on whether or not the city will build a new center in its downtown area is the color of the walls.

Sure, city officials are being very careful not to identify the project as a "go" merely waiting for a token "yes" vote, but the signs sure are pointing that way.

So here is the bottom line for those of us who might not be convinced this city needs a new recreation center downtown, but who are much more concerned about how much it is going to cost us after it is open.

Before this gets to the vote stage -- which is looking like it is getting closer and closer -- we need some answers.

• How much is this place going to cost to run and where do you expect to get the money to run it? You say it is not a moneymaker -- that means that, for a while, the taxpayers will be supporting this, so where are we going to come up with that extra money?

• Who is going to run it? And, FYI, we want a professional not just a city employee who has earned the right to serve through dedicated service. There is no extra money for a learning curve here.

• What are the rules going to be to make this HUD-financed project truly a place where people from all walks of life can enjoy a workout? And how are we going to make sure that public access continues to allow a place where people can come and feel safe?

• What is the guarantee that this is not going to become an albatross that will suck money out of the city coffers? As good a project as it might have been, the Paramount Theatre is still in its infant, needy stages. Can we afford two projects like this now?

• Who is going to watch over this whole thing to make sure it is done right and that it does not explode into change orders and all sorts of hidden costs?

Answer those questions and then, we can weigh the answers against the benefits to the city's future.

Published in Editorials on February 9, 2010 10:02 AM