TRUCKEE, Calif. — The stage has been set for the Truckee-Donner Recreation andamp; Park District to rid itself of its $7 million problem.Since December 2009, when construction costs of the Truckee Community Recreation Center came in that amount under budget, the district has been struggling to decide just how to spend the excess funds.After nixing the idea of an ice rink, the board of directors decided on two projects: an aquatics center located at the Truckee Recreation Center to replace the aging community pool near the high school, and a performing arts center to provide a space for actors and other stage artists.However, while it was agreed the aquatics center would receive $3 million and the performing arts center would get $4 million from the excess construction funds, neither facility had enough financial backing to move forward.Now, after years of consideration, after several architectural renderings of each facility (in which plans for each have been pared down) and after multiple studies — one of which derailed the 2010 attempt at a bond measure — the TDRPD board of directors is betting the game plan it decided upon at a special meeting Monday evening will be the winner.
The board voted unanimously to put an $8.52 million, 30-year bond measure on November’s ballot. The annual tax rate for the bond will be about $6.91 per $100,000 of assessed value for property owners — amounting to an average tax of about $20 per parcel for property owners within the district, said board members.The current construction cost estimate for the aquatic center is $7.25 million, down from original estimates of $11 million. The performing arts center’s updated price tag is $7.3 million with a $500,000 contingency; its high-end designs carried, at one time, a cost of $12 million.Recently, the board commissioned a study to gauge the level of charitable support that might be found in the district for the performing arts center. A small sample of the population identified the availability of $324,149 to $389,999 in charitable donations, which led researchers to extrapolate $1.5 million to $2 million of charitable support might be available.In addition to advocating for the bond, the board on Monday said it will embark on a fundraising campaign in hopes of raising an endowment fund for the performing arts center to manage ongoing costs.If the bond passes, the district will build both facilities. Board members said Monday they would build the aquatics center first and break ground on the performing arts center about two years later.“We are not taxing you,” said Director Kevin Murphy. “We are letting the public choose — right, wrong or indifferent.”
The special meeting was held to consider four bond options — one option being no bond at all.The decision was reached following a long public comment period. Some residents expressed support for the performing arts center if it was in a downtown location rather than the proposed site (the current design is attached to the Community Recreation Center). Others said an aquatics center is necessary to allow Truckee’s youth the opportunity to swim and Truckee’s disabled the opportunity for rehabilitation.Debbie Meyer, former U.S. Olympian and current coach of the Truckee Tahoe Swim Team, lobbied for the pool facility. Courtney Simson, who directed the recent “Kids on Broadway,” spoke for the performing arts center. She recounted a child performer recently saying theater is really the only chance she had to be on stage, unless she took ballet.But it was perhaps Performing Arts Commission Chairman Bob French’s booming voice that carried the most powerful public statement.“I would encourage everyone on aquatics to support the performing arts center, and everyone on performing arts center to support aquatics,” he said. “There is strength in numbers.”After the comment period, Board Chairman Peter Werbel asked the audience for a show of hands of who supported no bond measure at all; about seven people raised their hands. He then asked who supported some type of measure — about 30 to 40 people raised their hands.The board agreed, with each board member separately saying interest rates are low, need is high and the potential benefit to town — both economically and socially — is clear.“What if the bond fails?” Murphy asked rhetorically. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”