Our View: Yes on 6A to help Mountain Rec build for the future
Mountain Recreation is asking for a lot from voters in the district with Ballot Issue 6A, but that’s because voters asked for a lot themselves.
For the past four years, Mountain Rec staff has been surveying the public on what it wants, and the end result of all that engagement is an ambitious proposal called All Access Rec.
If approved, the measure would allow the district to make facility and equipment improvements to its three popular facilities in Eagle, Edwards and Gypsum, as well as adding more community spaces, additional programs for all ages, and an all-access pass to allow community members to utilize all three facilities. There will also be year-round access through updated and new community spaces, behavioral health programs, local nonprofit services, and social activities, as well as improvements to trailhead, swimming, and recreational facilities to provide more access for active outdoor recreation, summer camps, and youth and adult recreation programs.
It’s a bold vision for the future of recreation and community spaces in the western end of the valley. But that vision comes with a substantial asking price in the present. The district is asking voters to approve a property-tax increase that will support about $60 million in construction and improvements. The mill levy increase more than doubles the district’s current mill levy, and is estimated to cost $32 per year per $100,000 in home value, or about $217 per year for the average home in the district.
Some voters might wonder why the district can’t do these upgrades a la carte, possibly starting with the oldest of the three facilities, the well-loved Eagle Pool and Ice Rink. That facility is now 18 years old and was built when Eagle numbered around 3,000 residents. The town, according to the most recent census data, now has more than 7,000 residents.
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In a wide, narrow valley, the district’s geography makes that kind of piecemeal building all but impossible. The cost required for any single major upgrade at the Gypsum Recreation Center, Eagle Pool and Ice Rink or the Edwards Field House is significant enough that it would require bonding — which would mean going to the public for funds for each individual project.
And while upgrading one at a time would allow the district to space things out, the voters in any one of the district’s hubs would be unlikely to vote and pay for a major upgrade in another. By taking that kind of approach, it’s likely the district would never get anything meaningful done.
That’s why the Mountain Recreation board has taken its district-wide approach. While the price tag is higher, this measure will set the district up for years, instead of constantly going back to voters for more money.
More importantly, the district has been responsible with the public’s money. Its last bond measure came more than 20 years ago, and those bonds were paid off 10 years early.
The district also heard loud and clear from two targeted surveys and in-person feedback at more than 30 events across the valley over the spring and summer that the bulk of voters were largely enthusiastic about the proposed upgrades. But what was also clear: the original $80 million price tag was too steep.
After some cost trimming, the district came back with the $60 million ask. It expects to raise the additional capital from private donations, with $6 million already lined up.
That’s not underselling the request to voters. It’s substantial. But, given the district’s trustworthiness handling the public’s money, and the acknowledgment that these asks aren’t going to get any cheaper as the western end of the valley continues to grow and construction costs continue to skyrocket, this proposal deserves your support.
It’s a necessary pain point to set up a bright future to create community centers that are multicultural and multi-generational.
A yes vote is an investment in the overall health of this valley, both physically and mentally, and that investment is one we’re inclined to say voters won’t regret.
Vote yes on Ballot Issue 6A.
The Vail Daily Editorial Board is Publisher Mark Wurzer, Editor Nate Peterson, Assistant Editor Sean Naylor, Business Editor Scott Miller and Eagle Valley Enterprise Editor Pam Boyd.