The town mailed letters to residents and held its first informational meeting this week as part of its effort to inform residents about a possible ballot measure to expand the Community Recreation Center.
Four members of the public attended the town’s first public outreach meeting about the proposed expansion at the Clearview Library on Thursday, asking questions about the financing, the town’s existing debt and new opportunities that would be made available with the expansion.
In a letter to town residents, Mayor John Vazquez said over the past decade the town’s population has doubled and the recreation center has seen a 218 percent increase in demand for programming.
“We have come to the point where our facilities and programs simply cannot keep pace with the demand for indoor recreation,” Vazquez wrote in the letter.
To meet those needs, the town is considering asking voters whether they would like to raise the town’s sales tax by 0.75 percent, or 7.5 cents on a $10 purchase, to fund a $16.1 million bond to expand of the current center.
The expansion would include a leisure pool, lap lanes, water slide, auxiliary gym, track, aerobics and wellness studios, expanded locker rooms, a supervised child area, a classroom/party room and additional parking. While there would be space for fitness equipment, the town board decided the equipment itself will not be included in the project, as it could compete with existing fitness centers in town. Instead, the board has said the town could partner with a private gym to provide the equipment and programming later on.
During the public outreach meeting, resident David Valenta asked over what period of time the sales tax would be collected.
Town Manager Kelly Arnold said the town is looking at a 20-year bond, which would go to market in 2015, providing the money for the expansion. The town would use 0.55 percent of the sales tax increase to fund the bond’s annual payments over the next 20 years, while the other 0.20 percent would be set aside specifically for ongoing maintenance at the recreation center.
Another resident, Richard Drake, asked what kind of sales tax revenue the town assumed to collect each year to finance enough money to pay for the project. Arnold said the town was projecting annual collections of $6 million, a number he said was conservative.
Drake also asked what other bonds the town was still paying off. Arnold said the town is still paying off a 40-year, $3 million bond for the police facility, and there is about five years left on the original recreation center bond.
The Windsor Town Board has said they would like to gauge community support for the measure and will decide whether to place it on the ballot later this summer.
The town has set up an information page on its website to inform the public and solicit input about the proposed expansion at www.windsorgov.com/crcexpand.