TRUCKEE, Calif. — Sides are already being taken on whether to approve a bond measure come November that would finance the construction of a performing arts center and an aquatic center in Truckee.Dan Kates, co-chair of Truckee First, a committee group in favor of Measure J, said now is the time to buy into the facilities.“Clearly the economy is not as strong as any of us would like it to be; however, that is exactly the time to invest,” Kates said. “The construction costs are lower than they've been in a long time, the interest rates are lower than anyone can remember, so when is this opportunity going to come around again?“If we wait until the economy is rip-roaring again, these facilities could cost twice as much.” Truckee resident Lynne Larson, who is against the approval of Measure J, disagreed, saying this is not right time to burden community members with an additional 30-year tax when unemployment is high and home foreclosures are occurring.“These are nice things to have, but we cannot expect to have facilities that create hardships for others,” she said in an email. “They think it isn't a lot of money. For who? I believe there is a lack of sensitivity for those on fixed incomes, no income, seniors, the underemployed, those losing their homes.“Ask the voters when the economy is better to buy.”Roger Rintala, a member of Truckee First who is pro-Measure J, said the amount of money expected to be generated for the local economy through the facilities is in excess of $2 million annually.“We have the opportunity to invest, and straight out of the gate, we're investing into our own community,” he said. “A huge benefit is to draw the people — both in town and out of town — into the community farther and spend their time, their energy, participate in the community as well as spend their dollars, generating more revenue within Truckee.” Larson countered, saying that once the facilities are up and running, they will run at a deficit.Once the aquatic center is operational, Kates said it will about break even, both through the Measure J payment of $6.91 per $100,000 assessed property value, and the continued payment of the flat rate of $8 per parcel owner, which supports operation of the current Truckee-Donner Community Swimming Pool, located at 11725 Donner Pass Road, behind Truckee High School.The performing arts center is forecast to have an annual deficit of $75,000, Kates said. In order to combat the deficit, endowments could be raised or district reserves could be used until 2022, when the debt services of Riverview Sports Park comes off the books.
Larson said building the facilities isn't necessary, since pools and stages already exist in the area.“There are already 11 neighborhood pools within the district boundaries,” she said. “There are multiple venues for performing arts.”“There are pools in all these communities, but it's very limited access,” Rintala said. “(They're) private pools and they're not available all year. It's really a nonstarter.”As for having venues for the performing arts, Rintala said: “The facility people tend to think of is the high school theater, but that is really committed to the high school and it's not available for other types of activities.”Some of the types of activities Rintala said could take place in a new performing arts center include visual art performances, film festivals, children and adult theater and touring company performances, among others.As for the aquatic center, Larson said: “A group of people want an aquatic center because the current ‘public pool' is old and not conductive to training competitive swimmers. Training competitive swimmers is costly and only those who can afford it can participate.”Vicky Cohorst, of Truckee, said the need for the aquatic center goes beyond competitive training purposes.“I have a knee replacement and I spend two days a week in a therapeutic pool, so to me water is going to be my saving grace,” she told those attending a Truckee First meeting Wednesday night at Tanner Construction in Truckee. “… Had it not been for that pool (Tahoe Forest), I would be in a wheelchair right now.”Rintala said other uses for the aquatic center besides water therapy and training include having a place to teach children how to swim safely, a place for seniors to recreate safely and a place to support diving and water polo activities.“These events often in our current facility compete with one another, so if there's a swim meet taking place, there (are) no learn-to-swim (sessions),” said Dan Ingalls, who is pro-Measure J. “What our new facility is going to provide is multiple events taking place at one time, year-round.”Kates said the aquatic center would have two bodies of water — a competition pool with eight lanes and a warm water pool complete with a “lazy river” for physical therapy — as opposed to the one body of water the current public pool has.Schematics for the performing arts center include the theater having 282 seats, and additional storage space, a backstage and classrooms in the approximately 11,000 square-foot building.If Measure J is approved by voters come November (it would pass by two-thirds majority), Kates said construction on both of the facilities would have to begin within three years of the bond's passage, with the aquatic center likely breaking ground first.