MONTROSE – After a failed sales tax ballot initiative, the Montrose Recreation District continues to search for ways to meet the community's needs despite worn out and inadequate facilities, MRD officials say.
"I think this plan (for a community recreation center) is relevant and the right plan for Montrose, but I think it was a question of timing," MRD Director Ken Sherbenou said.
On April's ballot, the district asked voters to approve a 0.2 percent sales tax increase to help fund a $22 million community recreation center. The initiative failed with only 44.4 percent of citizen approval.
"One of my goals is to figure out ways the rec district can meet the needs of the community as it goes forward," newly appointed MRD Board Member Barbara Bynum said. "One concern is obviously facilities, and that includes the pools."
MRD has an indoor and outdoor pool at its Aquatic Center in Montrose. The indoor pool was built in 1986 and is at the end of its useful life, Sherbenou said.
That became even more evident last week when both pools were closed to the more than 500 daily visitors because of failed pumps.
Both pools have since reopened, but the problem of an inadequate and deteriorating aquatic system remains.
"Every fix we do on the pool is temporary," Sherbenou said. "We were scrambling for 48 hours just to maintain services during one of our busiest times of the year. It's stressful on all of us…. We continue limping by to try and minimize the negative effects on those that we serve."
In 2011, MRD served more than 18,000 people through its aquatics and other programs, such as the senior center activities at the Montrose Pavilion, according to its recently released State Of Play report. It was the largest program participation since MRD started tracking participation in 2004.
That growth has put a strain on the district and its facilities, resulting in a recreation service that has to be spread out across Montrose.
"Every user group consistently talks about our current facility (Aquatic Center) not being adequate," Sherbenou said.
Along with a pool that is crowded most of the day with everything from the high school's swim team to water aerobics classes and lap swimmers, MRD's other programs are spread among seven school gyms, the Montrose Pavilion and Friendship Hall at the County Fairgrounds.
The community recreation district plan addresses these issues, he said, but until the district can find the funding, the plan remains only on paper.
Bynum said the board continues to save money in its capital savings fund.
Each year the district puts one-quarter of its revenues into that capital fund, around $500,000 to $700,000 annually, according to its report. MRD committed to contributing 77 percent annually for the cost of a new facility, of which this fund would have been used, along with program revenues. The $780,000 annual revenue gap would have been filled by the increased sales tax revenues.
But without that additional income, MRD is left to balance repair costs with desired services, Sherbenou said. He said the district must ask itself first if sinking money into repairs is the way to go, as each problem arises.
And to increase revenues, the district has added a few new programs this year, including pickleball – a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis – at the underutilized inline hockey rink at Riverbottom Park, Sherbenou said.
Times and fees can be found on the district's Website at www.montroserec.com.
"I think the rec district is being good stewards of its money and will continue to save money," Bynum said.