Council carefully considers financing for rec facility

·3 min read

November 17 - Editor’s Note: Since our last report, Town Council has held two meetings during which the subject of the proposed Recreation Facility has been a significant point of discussion. This article will serve to inform the reader relative to previous discussions and, more particularly, report on Council’s current deliberations.

For several weeks Town Council has been discussing the feasibility of constructing a multi-purpose recreation facility which is proposed to be located at the E. J. Wood property adjacent to the High School.

It has previously been reported that the latest cost estimate for the building is $1.3 million, an amount which would be financed by both public and private funds in a unique arrangement called a “Public Private Partnership” (P3) with Public funds being sourced from a $1.0 million line-item commitment which Council has made to its 2021 CY Capital Budget. The balance is projected to come from private donors as the result of a direct fundraising initiative under the leadership of the Pickleball Association

It must be noted that the $1.0 million committed by Council does not increase the 2021 CY Budget in total; rather, those funds must be found in creative and strategic manners such as by redirecting funds from other line items. It has also been previously reported that the proposed footprint for the building is 15,200 square feet; although, as other potential stakeholders have expressed interest in taking advantage of the opportunities which the facility presents, the footprint could grow to 16,800 square feet.

Seeking the direction of Council to identify how funds should most efficiently be redirected within the 2021 Budget, Administration has presented Council with a number of budget-revising suggestions such as deferring, revising or even cancelling previously planned projects.

Confronted by these various scenarios, and in the continuing absence of specific line-item construction and operating cost estimates, Council has decided to exercise some caution and pause to consider and review their previous discussions and intentions.

In so doing, several decisions were taken:

-$10K will be allocated to engage the services of a professional engineer who will be tasked with providing conceptual drawings and preliminary cost estimates

-a fact finding initiative will determine all salient details relative to the project

-once completed, a survey will be conducted, hopefully in December, to determine public opinion regarding the project

-finally, before proceeding any further, a Town Hall meeting will be held to discuss the issue with all interested parties.

A special meeting was called on Tuesday, November 17 to consider a draft 2021 CY budget. A major part of the discussion at that meeting centred on how the Recreation Facility could be financed. Administration presented various scenarios by which the required $1 million could be re-allocated from the 2021 CY Budget and considerable discussion ensued.

It is apparent that Council is of two minds; one group of Councillors is anxious to proceed with the project, the other is more cautious and wishes to conduct additional due diligence.

It is also apparent that the sentiment to do further due diligence is carrying the day at the moment. As the meeting concluded it was understood that engineering drawings with their attendant accurately estimated costs would be obtained. In addition, “indications of intent” would be requested of potential donors and public opinion would be gauged in a poll conducted in December.

The special meeting concluded with Administration being directed by Council to bring a detailed financing proposal to their next meeting on November 24 for further discussion.

William Hill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star