Letter: Big belly flop at the recreation center
Editor’s note: According to City of South Lake Tahoe public information officer Tracy Franklin, “If approved the bond measure would be dedicated to construction, maintenance and operations of recreation; and specifically the City Council identified the construction of a new recreational complex as the highest priority. A defined amount has not been given to a new recreation complex.”
The South Lake Tahoe Recreation and Swim Complex is notoriously underused, and plans to renovate this neglected building have already began. There is no logical reason to build a $25 million recreation center, as the City of South Lake Tahoe has a strict budget, needs to focus planning on other projects, and finally, neither visitors nor locals will utilize the renovated center.
The City of South Lake Tahoe currently puts aside $1 million in funds to pay for all recreation programs, so an additional $25 million in extended cost would not fit the current budget. According to the City of South Lake Tahoe, 3 percent of the $34.3 million of general fund money moves toward the Parks and Recreation Department. Of that 3 percent, 80 percent of the money goes to employees. That leaves only about $200,000 to renovate, fund, or alter any venture the parks and recreation system plans. A meager amount of funds explains why the recreation center is referred to as “neglected” by the Tahoe Daily Tribune. It seems folly to renovate a building that has been put on the back burner for the last 40 years.
The meetings of remodel advocates and city representatives have already materialized as a waste of the precious city planning time, which should be focused on other reasonable expenditures. There is no doubt the City of South Lake Tahoe’s biggest asset and free resource is the lake itself. The stunning alpine lake draws visitors from across the planet, so it would behoove the city planning committee and city government to sponsor projects related to the lake, which supports the main commerce of tourism. For obvious reasons, city planning focus should always be on tourism and the businesses related to this valuable commerce.
Advocates stress that the South Tahoe Recreation Center would be for locals and tourists alike, which might raise a brow. Why would a tourist come to beautiful Lake Tahoe and decide to spend his or her time in a mediocre, or even outstanding, recreation center when there is a spectacular lake and majestic mountain scenery nearby? Many tourists come from cities with a swim center or recreation complex, but they don’t have our amazing lake. The issue is not that the recreation center is specifically not suited for South Lake Tahoe, but that locals and tourists have plenty of activities to take part in outside of a brick building. As one can see, South Lake Tahoe has no need for a renovated recreation center, as recreation opportunities surround locals and tourists.
South Lake Tahoe has been blessed with the most spectacular natural resource that any community could ever hope for. Lake Tahoe is truly the “Jewel of the Sierra” and its residents take advantage of the free recreation amenities the lake offers. In the City of South Lake Tahoe, there is no need to spend $25 million on a recreation complex when a priceless yet free recreation utopia already exists all around.
Travis B. Wood
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.