Letter to the Editor

WECRD has a good plan to build proposed community center

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dear editor:

Recent talk and opposition to the WECRD has led me to write this letter. I feel obligated to provide a different view and the other side of the facts to readers.

First, as a high school student, a recreation center without a pool would be pointless. The city pool provides great fun for young kids all summer long. During open swim, it seems like standing room only with all of the younger kids.

I went to city hall and called Parks and Recreation to get some figures on the city pool. In 2008 the city pool made $44,355 with "open swim at $1/person." Divide this amount by the number of days the pool was open last summer (80) and it equals out to be about 554 people at open swim everyday. Divide that again by 2 (two open swims a day) and it equals 277 people at each open swim. A bit overcrowded for the city pool.

Second, many concerned tax-payers have expressed worry about sustainability. The question of how can we know if this many people will actually use the facility. Refer back to 544 people a day at open swim. I also got information from city hall on the golf course. In 2008 the golf course took in $73,485 in 'season tickets.' The cost for a season ticket at the golf course is $550, this equals out to about 133 season passes.

In the WECRD business plan, it is estimated that 600 annual family memberships will be sold at $400 each (a family includes 2 adults, 2 kids, $50/add on). Family memberships daily cost for a family of 5 people to use the facility is 22 cents per person per day! Compare that to the $1/person/open swim at the city pool for only 80 days a year. The 2007 population estimate was 12,236 for Mountain Home.

Third, I have heard concerns about the economy and why hasn't the WECRD 'scaled down' the facility along with the rest of the country scaling down. The original plan for the WECRD recreation facility in 2002 was a $10 million dollar, 80,000 sq.ft. building. The last official plan was a 30,000 sq.ft. building at $57/sq. ft. (this could change because of a recent possible partnership with the YMCA)

Fourth, people have expressed frustration about the amount of time it has taken the WECRD to come up with a plan and build. In Sugar Land, Texas, in 1999, a $4 million bond was passed. It has been 10 years and feasibility studies are still taking place. They don't estimate building to start until the spring of 2010. It is not abnormal for a project like this to take years.

Last, I have heard false information being spread about the WECRD recreation facility. I was skeptical of a few things so I researched it. The first thing I heard was that a 'wound' pool was included in the building plans for a recreation facility. I heard people with open wounds would be allowed to use this pool. Having personal experience with MRSA staff infections, I thought there might be some confusion. I asked Director Mollie Marsh specifically about this. She told me absolutely not. Just like any other pool the 'therapy' pool the WECRD will not be used for people with open wounds.

The second thing I heard that I wasn't sure about was that the recent $285,000 awarded to the WECRD was money from coming from the recent federal bailout 'stimulus' package. I looked at the WECRD's business plan and the Idaho Statesman article regarding this money. The Idaho Statesman article states that the money is earmarked federal appropriations money from a congress spending bill. Nowhere did it say 'stimulus' or 'bailout.' Also, when looking at the WECRD's business plan, you see that the WECRD applied for the same appropriations money in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. The money recently awarded was the 2008 federal appropriations money. The WECRD directors have not found any bailout money for the recreation facility.

I urge readers to look at all sides of the facts and issues before making a decision.

Rebecca Smith