Backers, foes see different community centers

Opponents say Fruita facility would be too expensive to use

Would the proposed Fruita community center be a recreation hall for all to enjoy, or is it a $12.89 million taxpayer-financed recreation center for the privileged?

Linda Deaton, head of Fruita Citizens for Common Sense, which is opposed to the center, says it’s the latter.

“This is a facility that a small percentage in this community would actually use, but it would be paid for by everyone,” Deaton said. “It is just too much money.”

In the April mail-ballot election, Fruita residents split their vote evenly — 1,262 in favor and 1,262 against — and defeated a proposal to increase sales tax by 1 cent on the dollar to pay for the community center.

The facility could cost $36 million if it took the city the full 25 years to pay off the bonds. The Fruita City Council subsequently decided to place the issue on the November ballot and let voters take one more whack at it.

“I wouldn’t say it was defeated. It was a tie,” said Fruita City Councilman Terry Moss, who led the effort last spring in favor of the community center. “That is why we chose to put it back on the ballot.”

That is when Deaton, who publishes a line of greeting cards and owns Latitudes North in Fruita, formed her political action group.

“Twice in one year, I said, ‘This is too much,’ ” she said.

Her chief complaint with the facility, proposed for the intersection of Cherry and Coulson streets, is that it won’t be affordable.

A single person, paying the daily adult fee of $6 per day, could spend $52 a month using the gym three times a week. A family pass would be $645 a year, Deaton said.

“People that will never be able to afford to use it will have to pay for this,” she said.

Moss said Deaton is confused about the pricing.

“A person that is going to continually use it is going to use one of the discount rates,” he said. “They are going to spend their money wisely.”

Deaton also raised a concern about maintenance after the center is built in 2010.

“If they don’t collect on the user fees, where does the money come from? That is unanswered,” she said.

“It will come from the sales tax,” Moss countered.

After the bonds are paid, a four-tenths of a cent sales tax would remain to fund nearly $400,000 a year in maintenance costs, he said.

Fruita has greater priorities than a new recreation center, Deaton said.

“We have streets to repair, we have growing neighborhoods around here, and I just believe our priorities should be focused on our infrastructure and our public safety,” she said.

Moss said the Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce backs the center and that a recent poll found 70 percent of Fruita residents support the community center.

“Not only will my family benefit from the recreation, and the different things it will offer, it will help spur our local economy,” Moss said.


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