County decides to build gym |

County decides to build gym

Michael Schneider

In a split vote Thursday, Douglas County Commissioners voted to move forward with funding for the second phase of the Kahle Park face-lift.

Phase 2, which will include a regulation-sized gymnasium available to the public, will be paid for with room tax revenue, said Scott Morgan, director of parks for the county.

Morgan, who said the room tax funds will secure short-term general obligation bonds, said he was not sure when the project would begin.

“If we sell the bonds construction could begin by next year,” Morgan said.

Selling the bonds, and the funding source that will secure the bonds, were sticking points for a couple of the commissioners who liked the project but said they couldn’t put their vote on it.

Commissioner Bernie Curtis said he voted against the project because he disapproves of using room tax funding for capitol improvement projects.

“I thought it was the wrong use of room tax funds,” Curtis said. “Especially now with the new room tax formula.”

The Nevada State Legislature recently passed legislation which allows for a greater amount of transient occupancy tax dollars to remain at their source, Lake Tahoe, due to concerns raised by the casino core of decreasing tourism.

Curtis said the decision had nothing to do with the lake portion of the county as he said he voted down similar projects proposing to use room tax funds in the valley.

Commissioner Kelly Kite also voted against Phase 2.

Kite said he didn’t like allocating nearly $2 million for a recreation center at Kahle Park when valley voters will have before them a quarter-percent sales tax increase.

“If we’re building more it’s just going to cost more to maintain it in the future,” Kite said.

Commissioner Steve Weissinger, who voted for the project, said he did so due to an ever-shrinking window of opportunity.

The commissioner said that Assembly Bill 616, the law which allows for more room tax dollars marketing Lake Tahoe, didn’t specify that room tax money couldn’t be used for bonding until 1999 when the tax structure changes.

Weissinger, who also works at the South Lake Tahoe Raley’s on U.S. Highway 50, said an overwhelming majority of the people he conversed with regarding the next phase for the park supported it.

“I’m elected to represent the people of this county,” Weissinger said. “Nine out of 10 people at my store said we need this facility at the lake to be completed.”

Gaming representatives appeared at last week’s meeting but, according to Kirk Ledbetter, customer services systems manager for Harveys, the casinos didn’t have a problem with room tax dollars bonding the project.

“It’s not complete in its current form,” said Ledbetter regarding Kahle Park. “It doesn’t serve the community.

Ledbetter said that should the commissioners had approved numerous other projects to be completed with room tax dollars, there may have been problems.

Phase 1 of the project called for the sparse amenities which currently adorn the park.

Phase 2, the phase which won approval last week, will see a recreation center with a basketball court, two volleyball courts, a jogging track, a weight room with cardiovascular equipment, a child-care center and an indoor playground.

Morgan said the recreation center, when completed, will be priced conducive to maximum use.

“We want to get a lot of people through it,” he said.

A Parks and Recreation meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 22 at Kahle Park to further discuss funding and the implementation of the project. Morgan said the public is invited.

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