Building starts on Fruita rec center

Supporters of building a community center in Fruita were first left to hang their heads as residents defeated a proposed sales-tax increase to fund the project by coming to a tie vote in April 2008.

Then they gnawed at their fingernails when a second question passed by a slim 118-vote margin seven months later.

Those folks can formally exhale today, when city officials break ground on the Fruita Community Center, bolstered by nearly $2 million in grants and private donations and lower-than-expected construction prices that will defray city taxpayer costs.

In a little more than a year, city residents should have a 58,568-square-foot center where they can exercise their bodies and their minds.

In addition to an indoor leisure and lap pool, senior center, gymnasium, running track, playground and meeting rooms, the center will include a nearly 7,000-square-foot new branch of the Mesa County Public Library.

Money also will go to renovate Fruita’s outdoor pool.

City officials and volunteers spent about a year planning, designing and securing funding for the center.

Most of the funding will come from a new 1 percent sales tax.

Sixth-tenths of that 1 percent tax will sunset in 30 years or when nearly $11 million in project bonds are paid off, whichever comes first.

The balance of the new tax is permanent and will pay for center operations and maintenance.

A citizen fundraising committee has generated another $1.9 million through grants and donations.

The group is still looking to raise $15,000 to match a $50,000 Gates Family Foundation grant and has more than $300,000 in grant and donation requests pending.

Altogether, the $11.2 million price tag is about $800,000 lower than expected, primarily because of an economy that has left construction companies hungry for work and willing to offer competitive bids.

Today’s groundbreaking will vary from others, which often feature a handful of dignitaries turning a few shovels of dirt.

Anyone who wants to attend and participate can bring a shovel, and the city will paint it gold.

“We all felt, including the City Council, that this is a building being paid for by the community. It’s intention is to be used by the community.” said City Parks and Recreation Director Ture Nycum.

“So we felt it should be a community event,”

Ture said the city of Fruita hopes to hold a grand opening on Jan. 11, 2011.


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