Shin: Vote AGAINST Rec Bond: There’s A Better Way

By LISA SHIN, President 
A Better Way for LA PAC

A Better Way for LA PAC was formed by concerned citizens who propose that we expand and improve recreation in ways that are fiscally responsible and sustainable. I do not question the quality of life benefits our community would receive from the Recreation Bond. Personally, I would love to see an indoor ice-skating rink and expanded recreational facilities.

However, I question whether this Bond represents the highest and best use of our tax dollars, when there are so many competing needs. There is a better way. I am talking about robust and diverse funding models which have been adopted nationwide to build and operate state-of-the-art facilities. An entrepreneurial, business-minded approach to generating revenues. Strong engagement with the private sector. Philanthropy from private citizens, businesses, and charitable foundations.

Consider the city of Hobbs, which spent four years to “stand together and redefine the term ‘public-private partnership’ where six public and private institutions came together to collaborate on a true center of recreational excellence.” The CORE is set to open in the spring of 2018.

Consider the Platte County North and South Community Centers of Greater Kansas City. They were built in 2004 with funds from a voter approved, half-cent county sales tax. These recreation facilities have always run in a unique public-private partnership where the County built and owns the buildings, but the YMCA operates them, and provides the programming. In 2014, the South Center received a $8.4 million upgrade, which included new workout spaces, an enhanced childcare facility, a dedicated lap pool, and an expanded parking lot. Commitment to community health and wellness is demonstrated by the generous donors to this YMCA: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, Humana, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Kirk Foundation Trust, Kansas City Power & Light, and the Bank of Kansas City. Here is an entire community coming together to invest in the future.

A similar model could be implemented for the Bond’s most costly project, the $18.4 million+ Recreation Center. Our local Y would be “an excellent collaborator and operator of such a facility.” However, the County wanted to see the bond passed before commitment to such a partnership. Why? Given the YMCA’s operational and public fund-raising expertise, this partnership would have lowered the total cost associated with the recreation bond. While the County claims no discussion about the next steps if the bond does not pass, the YMCA would be more than willing to move forward on their alternative “plan B.”    

Vote against the Recreation Bond. There are far better ways to make Los Alamos a better place to live and work.

A Better Way for LA PAC will have a booth May 19 at Gordon’s Concert, Overlook Park. Please join us for a “Don’t Splash Your Cash” party.  We will have information, games and prizes for the kids!