Guest Editorial |

Guest Editorial

Lauren O'MalleyBoard Member, SBSRD

Regarding the $12 million Recreation Bond on the upcoming ballot:

If the Recreation District’s Bond passes this Tuesday, the Recreation District will do exactly what the Recreation District has done with the previous two recreation money bonds: Build and improve trails, facilities, and parks, relying on active, ongoing input from our constituents to ensure that what we build is appropriate, affordable, effective and efficient in delivering quality recreation opportunities in our community.

We’ll use the same methods as everything we’ve built to date, including mountain and transportation trails and connections throughout the Basin, Ecker Hill field complex, Ecker Hill pool components, Trailside Park, Trailside Elementary School field, Quinn’s Junction Ice Arena components, Willow Creek Park, and Field House at Newpark.

The Recreation District periodically conducts a statistically valid Needs Assessment Survey of residents. This helps us identify our community’s priorities, needs, desires, demographics, existing and likely usage patterns.

When bond monies or other capital is assured, we

Update the Needs Assessment Survey with questions to rank the types of amenities and features desired within new and existing facilities and parks

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Conduct cost/benefit analyses of the proposed and ranked amenities, including capital cost, operational cost, demographic served, neighborhood impacts, collaboration with other local entities, non-duplication of existing facilities, accessibility, traffic, parking, and many other considerations

Hold open house events and public meetings to encourage public input to the amenities for final design decisions

This $12 million bond amount was established the same way as past bond amounts. We use our experienced project management and architectural firms to identify: a basic range of costs for facility and trail improvements requested by our residents; an estimate of what those amenities would cost to operate; how much of that total could actually be operated within our capped operational tax levy; a bond amount limited to what is affordable to operate.

Bond language is necessarily flexible. Our first bond was expected to build a park at PRI in Kimball Junction. When that fell through, a land opportunity arose at Trailside where we’ve been headquartered for 10 years. Should we have waited for PRI?

None of us, as taxpayers, would want to fund a big enough recreation bond to pay for all the things that all residents want, or to have our existing capped operational tax rate increased. There will be tradeoffs, there will be collaboration opportunities, there will be demographic changes. There are no guarantees for any particular interest group. Have your recreation bond monies been spent responsibly to date? Have you been given fair opportunities to have your needs heard and met? Should the trail network continue to be built? Should we be able to acquire land for the next park? Should the Field House be completed with some amenities that are important to you? Do you want a leisure pool in the Basin? Are you willing to pay about $15 per $100,000 of assessed value on your property to pay for whichever of these things are important to you? Only you know your answers, and only you can vote accordingly.