Converse County voters will decide Tuesday whether to approve $75.9 million to replace the Douglas Recreation Center and renovate the Glenrock Recreation Center.
The projects will be paid for by continuing the sixth-cent tax approved in May 2013. That tax was initiated to pay for libraries in Douglas and Glenrock and build the new Eastern Wyoming College campus. It was supposed to take until 2020 to raise the money. Instead, all three projects will be fully funded by this summer.
The Glenrock Recreation Center will account for $28 million of the cost. The updated rec center will include an outdoor splash park, an aquatics center, a new gym and expanded cardio and weight rooms. Some of the facility will also be open 24 hours.
The existing facility is 40 years old. It needs a new roof, along with electrical and mechanical work. But the building is as structurally sound as the day it was built, said Recreation Director Donnie Stewart.
The center hosts classes, the Boys & Girls Club, after-school programs and food services. In all, about 1,000 people visit the center weekly, Stewart said.
“Glenrock has been supportive,” Stewart said Thursday. “It’s really more of a community center.”
In the nearby lobby, Roy Young sat in a chair, feet firmly planted on the aging, mustard yellow carpet, reading a newspaper.
For the last seven or eight years, Young has been coming to the rec center five days a week. He walks for an hour. Then, he lifts weights until his ride arrives to pick him up.
His grandkids shoot hoops at the rec center. The oldest is tall for his age, Young said, smiling.
He supports the project.
“Where would I go? I can’t see to drive. There’s not much in Glenrock, so this is great for us,” said Young, 78.
At the other end of the facility, Lori DeSanti walked on a treadmill. She was excited for the extended hours and the lazy river features in the aquatics center.
“There’s something for everybody. They don’t cater to just one age group,” DeSanti said.
Douglas Recreation Director Monty Gilbreath wants more people in his town to have the same opportunities. The current rec center is part of the high school, so the public has limited access to the facility, he explained. That’s why the town would build a new facility.
There is opposition to the proposed location, Gilbreath said. The center would be built in the Seven Trails development, a 1,300-acre residential, commercial and recreational project planned west of Douglas.
“It’s not necessarily, in some people’s view, in the best location,” Gilbreath said. “Everybody would love it in their backyard.”
The Douglas facility would cost $42 million. The remaining $6 million will go into an operations and maintenance account.
The new facility would be larger, include three full gyms, a bouldering wall, a virtual reality sports simulator and a wave pool for indoor surfing.
Gilbreath and Stewart agreed the downturn in the local economy was a concern. The county has collected record sales tax receipts in recent months. At the current pace, the two rec centers would be paid for in four-and-a-half years. If the county has a 25 percent reduction in collections, the tax will expire in 2021. That’s just one year after the tax was expected to sunset anyway, Gilbreath pointed out.
If voters approve the project, it will likely take two-and-a-half year to complete both rec centers.
Polls are open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. May 5.