Big money wanted for Racquet Club | ParkRecord.com

Big money wanted for Racquet Club

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Park City officials next week are scheduled to approach regular Parkites about renovating the Racquet Club, with City Hall appearing just weeks away from setting aside $8 million to redo the Park Meadows athletic club.

The aging facility is Park City’s only public health club, and City Hall has long wanted to upgrade the Racquet Club. Officials want the Park City Council to earmark money for the building during the annual budget talks, which are ongoing, and an open house is planned for Parkites to provide opinions.

The open house is scheduled about a week before Mayor Dana Williams and the City Council are slated to talk about the Racquet Club as part of City Hall’s overall budget. The open house is planned on Wednesday, May 14 from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Racquet Club.

Ken Fisher, who directs City Hall’s recreation department, said officials remain undecided about the details of a Racquet Club renovation. Meetings like the upcoming open house will influence City Hall as it considers the redo of the building, he said. Some potential designs will be presented on Wednesday, however.

Fisher is seeking the $8 million in the budget, and he wants another $2 million to build an indoor pool. Fisher said the location of the pool has not been determined, however.

The $8 million earmark would be among the largest the City Council has considered in recent years, and it is one of several multimillion-dollar construction projects the elected officials will decide before the budget is finalized in June. Fisher said the City Council is scheduled to discuss the Racquet Club on May 22, and a public hearing is planned.

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Fisher said there are several options for the Racquet Club, but details were not immediately available. Possibly, he said, much of the Little Kate Road building could be demolished and then a new facility be rebuilt. Under one idea, the facility’s indoor tennis courts and the gymnasium could remain standing while the rest of the building is torn down, Fisher said.

"We’re not going to be the Taj Mahal or anything like that," Fisher said, expecting a renovated Racquet Club will be "very nice."

Fisher and other officials on Wednesday will poll people at the open house about what a redone Racquet Club should feature. He said the fitness area, the weight room and the cardiovascular area could be expanded. Officials are also considering installing an indoor surfing machine. He said the money would also increase energy efficiency and solve building-code issues at the Racquet Club.

Interest from regular Parkites is difficult to gauge. There have long been sporadic complaints about the condition of the Racquet Club, and officials have acknowledged as much as well. The Racquet Club has a loyal following, with many people choosing the facility for their workouts over private-sector health clubs.

A renovation like the one under consideration would be the most significant since City Hall bought the facility in 1986. There have been upgrades in the 22 years, including a little more than $900,000 in improvements since 2001, Fisher has said. However, voters in 2001 rejected a $2 million bond measure that would have paid for more upgrades.

Fisher does not expect resistance similar to what City Hall encountered as the 2001 bond measure failed since the Racquet Club work under consideration is not tied to a ballot measure.

If the City Council sets aside the money, Fisher expects work to start in spring 2009. He said the work could take between 12 and 18 months.

In spring 2007, a survey found Parkites wanted the Racquet Club fixed up more than they wanted other recreation improvements.

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