Endorsement: 'No' on Batavia Park District referendum

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted3/1/2020 1:00 AM

The Batavia Park District board says residents need and want a new $27 million indoor eight-lane pool, indoor track and turf playing field, gym and rooms for group fitness programs. That might be the case, but some aspects of the park district's borrowing proposal don't add up.

The park board will seek voters' permission in the March 17 primary election to borrow the money to build the facility. Two previous bids for voter approval for similar expansions came at the height of the recession and both failed, one for $36 million in 2008 and another for $20 million in 2010.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For this attempt, we recommend voting "no," mostly because of the cost.

If the project is approved, the owner of a $300,000 house would see a tax increase of $178 a year. That is substantial for a facility the park district emphasizes is not a fitness center, though it would have group fitness rooms and "a small selection of cardio equipment machines."

There are other potential costs outlined in the park district's business plan, from possible program fee increases for some users of the facility to a tight operating budget that assumes the existing parks budget will cover 9% of costs in Year 1 and 7% in Year 6. User fees would range from $3 for one-day use of the walking track to $700 for an annual family pass.

We'd like to see the park district team with another entity to share costs and use of an indoor pool. Batavia High School lacks one, for instance. Many suburban park districts have such an arrangement involving public schools, colleges or other organizations.

Meanwhile, we view the proposed Batavia Activity & Recreation Center as too expensive. We recommend a "no" vote.

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