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Officials: Macedonia to expand rec center, build waterpark if Issue 19 passes

by Eric Marotta | Editor Published: October 19, 2016 12:00 AM
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Macedonia -- City officials say passage of Issue 19, a 20-year renewal of the city's 0.25 percent income tax for recreation, would finance around $10 million in improvements to the parks and the Macedonia Family Recreation Center, including adding an outdoor pool and waterpark.

Issue 19 is a 20-year renewal of a 0.25 percent income tax earmarked for recreation that is expiring next June. It would continue to bring the city between $1 million and $1.5 million per year, according to city officials. Also on the ballot is Issue 18, a 0.25-percent income tax increase earmarked for roads.

Those with an annual income of $50,000 would pay less than $10.50 a month for each measure, though because it is a renewal, Issue 19 would not be a tax increase.

Councilors Kevin Bilkie, Nick Molnar and Jan Tulley voted to put both issues on the Nov. 8 ballot, with Councilors David Engle and Sylvia Hanneken voting against.

Regarding Issue 19, the recreation tax renewal, both Engle and Hanneken said they believe the city could have come up with a better plan to use the funds in coming years before going to voters for recreation money.

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However, Engle said he is not "vehemently opposed" to Issue 19, the recreation renewal.

"I think the voters should follow their conscience on how they want to consider the recreational tax," he said.

Hanneken said Issue 19 is "putting the cart before the horse."

"We have major road priorities that need to be addressed," she said. "Why shouldn't the city put actual plans together, quantify size, cost and projected construction timeframes and then ask residents to weigh in on preferences and priorities, before they ask for this 20-year levy?"

City officials supporting Issue 19 say that if voters approve the measure, the city would move immediately to begin an expansion of the recreation center, along with creating an outdoor pool and waterpark.

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Parks and Recreation Director Angela Manley said the entire project, including the rec center expansion and water park, is expected to cost between $9 million and $10 million.

Mayor Joe Migliorini said he expects the city would begin design work as soon as the levy is approved, with construction to begin in the spring or summer of 2017.

Migliorini said the plan stems from the city's parks and recreation advisory committee's analysis of a survey of recreational needs conducted early this year. He added the expansion plan is an outgrowth of plans the city drew up 20 years ago when it first built the recreation center.

"They have taken the old plan and put all the ingredients in there from the recent recreation and parks committee survey," he said, adding the $9 million to $10 million figure is a "guesstimate" of what the additions should cost.

According to drawings put on display Oct. 13, the recreation center expansion would include a new wing to house a "double gymnasium," as well as a "community wing" extension at the front entrance.

Migliorini said the community wing would be available for events such as weddings and private parties, but could also be used for community theater.

Migliorini said proceeds from Issue 19 would be used to finance a bond for the new construction, just as the city financed construction of the recreation center 20 years ago when the tax was first approved by voters.

"We finally were able to get it narrowed down to what it was people want to see in the facility ... and what we could also handle debt service on based on the 0.25 percent continuation," he said.

Bilkie, Council's representative to the Parks and Recreation Commission, said the commission tried to come up with a plan that would answer needs expressed in both the survey and among recreation center members.

"The locker rooms are just too small and they need to be expanded," he said. "It's not just what the survey said, it's more a whole encompassing view of what will make the building a lot more functional and to get people a lot more excited about joining."

He said that in addition to more locker room facilities, the expansion would include more exercise equipment and more room for fitness programs.

He said the renderings are "just a concept" of what could be built, adding the levy is expected to generate at least $20 million over its life, so $10 million worth of improvements would leave plenty available for maintenance and to support operations.

"We don't want to overextend ourselves by building $20 million worth of things that we can't maintain," he said.

Eric Marotta: 330-541-9433


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