Rec district in Hayden refining ideas |

Rec district in Hayden refining ideas

— Hayden’s recreation district committee will meet tonight to continue refining the proposal it will take to voters in November. The group has been soliciting the help of organizations that have helped get taxpayer-funded recreation centers constructed in other communities.

At the last meeting, Jane Vujovich met with the committee to discuss intergenerational programs with the group. Vujovich is the principal of Age Connection, an intergenerational program resource group. She is a past resident of Steamboat Springs and worked at the Extended Care Center for a number of years.

“This is a program that brings together seniors and kids in the community for recreation,” Town Manager Rob Straebel said. “Age Connection works as a consultant with rec centers to help incorporate programs to benefit both age groups.”

Recreation committee secretary Jeannie Wixson said she was pleased with the discussion on intergenerational programs and that the committee was receptive to Vujovich’s ideas.

“These programs make sense,” she, said. “The senior programs would work perfectly for integrating students with seniors in the community. The two groups have a lot to learn from each other and it’s a way to bring both groups together in the new facility.”

Committee member Scott Mader said that although the intergenerational discussion was of interest to the group, it isn’t something they haven’t already addressed.

“This isn’t anything new. We’ve been planning on these types of programs from the beginning,” he said. “We’ve always been talking about having something for everyone, but it validates what we’ve already been thinking.”

With an eye to creating a less expensive, more voter-friendly proposal, the center has been pared down from its original 42,000 square feet to a 23,554-square-foot structure. The committee eliminated a gymnasium from the first phase of construction and reduced the overall square footage of the various rooms that will make up the facility. Despite the cutbacks, the committee opted to include a physical therapy room that will most likely be leased to a private physical therapy group in the future.

“In my opinion, this is far as we should go in cutting back on the facility,” Mader said. “If we get below this, people may say there’s nothing there for us.”

The downsizing translates to a $180 tax reduction per family. Under the original proposal, families would have paid a total of $500 annually in additional property taxes and membership fees. Now, that total would be $318, or $118 in increased property taxes for district taxpayers opting not to use the proposed center.

Wixson said that the committee members have been hearing from the public about the intricacies of the proposed center but that there is still a long way to go before the actual financing questions are placed on the ballot.

“We’re pleased with the community support we’ve had on this and the input,” she said. “We’ve worked very hard. We’ve set the time line and we’re going to stick to it. We need more opinions from the public, though, as to what they are willing to pay for, but we plan to start attending public meetings and try to get the word out and then I think we’ll have a better idea.”

The facility downsizing came in the wake of community criticism that construction of the recreation area would be too costly for taxpayers. The committee is now looking at phasing the project, proposing to first complete the recreation center and later pursue private funding and state grants for the construction of playing fields.

Joseph Drew, vice president of Hanifen Imhoff, will address the group this evening regarding bond financing for the project.

— To reach Bryna Larsen call 871-4205, or e-mail

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