Community Recreation Center Feasibility Study Complete!
Community Recreation Center Feasibility Study Complete!
Based on community input, and with the help of BERK Consulting, Johnston Architects, and Ballard King (a firm specializing in cost estimating for recreation centers), the Project Committee has completed the feasibility study for a community recreation center. The center would be located on 12.2 acres of land adjacent to the Cle Elum-Roslyn schools. The land was donated to the City of Cle Elum expressly for the purpose of constructing a community recreation center and cannot be used for other purposes.
This feasibility study was launched in July 2021 with the following goals:
- Identify programs and features that would meet the needs and interests of the community
- Estimate costs of designing, building, maintaining, and operating a community center
- Determine if a community recreation center is desired, feasible, and worth pursuing
Key Findings in 2022
The results of the initial survey and other work performed in 2021 have previously been reported to the community. Below are the primary conclusions from work performed in the first three months of 2022.
- Over 80% of the 900+ survey respondents stated that they supported and were willing to financially support one or more of the three options proposed, under the funding model proposed.
- Of those supporting a community recreation center, most respondents favored the larger options (B and C), citing projected population growth as their rationale.
- Approximately 17% of the respondents were opposed to all three options.By far the largest concern is the proposed increase in property taxes.
- A swimming pool (by far the most important amenity desired by the community) has a disproportionately high impact on the cost to build and operate a community recreation facility.The 2002 Development Agreement with Suncadia provided only for land and some very basic site preparation. A complete recreation center was never promised.
- In a community the size of Upper Kittitas County, at best 25-30% of construction costs could be provided through fundraising (public and private grants, foundations, donations, etc.).In addition, user fees alone would never be enough to fund projected ongoing operating costs.
- A variety of public funding/tax models were considered and will continue to be explored.At this time, however, capital and operating levies will be required in order to support a community recreation center, providing a guaranteed stream of funds to effectively operate and maintain the facility.
- The entity with taxing authority broad enough to raise the required funds is Kittitas Parks and Recreation District #1 (KPRD), which covers most of Upper Kittitas County. UKC CRCA has begun to work with KPRD to put appropriate agreements and structures into place to properly support the operations and maintenance of a community recreation center.
Based on feedback from the community, we propose a “preferred option” that is a hybrid of options A, B and C that were presented during the feasibility process. We propose to construct any amenities that could not be added or expanded later and defer any outdoor amenities and indoor options that could be added later. The preferred option would include:
- A six-lane pool – A pool is what this community most wants.Four lanes do not accommodate competitive swimming, and a pool cannot be expanded in the future.
- Two basketball/pickleball/volleyball/other use gyms – Considering Cle Elum-Roslyn School District, Easton School District, local AAU teams and other groups; boys’ teams and girls’ teams; elementary, middle school and high school, and adults together, Upper County is severely lacking in indoor practice and recreational space.
- An indoor, elevated, enclosed walking and jogging track around the gyms and pool – This was the third most-popular amenity desired by the community.
- An outdoor splash pad, adjacent to the pool, that could be open to the pool via “garage doors” when weather permits – While a few respondents felt that a splash pad was unnecessary due to the short period of warm weather in our community, by far the majority of respondents supporting a community recreation center supported a splash pad.This is a desirable feature for families with toddlers and young children and is relatively low cost compared to the other amenities.
- One multi-purpose meeting/party room
We are very pleased with the community engagement and progress made to date. While great progress has been made, there is still much work to be done. As we move forward, we will continue to collaborate with the community to develop an appropriate balance between cost structure and amenities and to address questions, concerns and misconceptions raised in the second survey. Working in concert with the community, we plan to:
- Proceed with schematic design – Engage an architect to develop a schematic design. Conduct meetings with the public to listen to suggestions and address questions or concerns.
- Develop and initiate fundraising strategy – Apply for any and all grants available. Continue to look for equity partners. Conduct a capital campaign. Continue to refine the cost model and determine whether the burden to taxpayers could be reduced through fundraising in amounts greater than initially estimated.
- Define and execute the steps required to bring a capital and operating levy to a vote of the people.
While we have not yet developed a detailed work plan for the next phase of work, we anticipate that these next steps would be completed in spring 2023.
Frequently Asked Questions
This process is being led by the Upper Kittitas County Community Recreation Center Alliance (UKC CRCA) with support from the City of Cle Elum, City of Roslyn, the Cle Elum-Roslyn School District, and the Shoemaker Foundation.
The Upper Kittitas Community Recreation Center Alliance (UKC CRCA) is a new non-profit organization located in Kittitas County. The UKC CRCA was formed specifically to assess the feasibility of a community recreation center, determining what the community would like to see built, and coordinating the design and construction of a facility if it is found to be desired and feasible. The UKC CRCA’s first step has been to commission a feasibility study to gauge interest in a potential recreation center.
Members of the UKC CRCA team include:
- Claire Hein Nicholls | Shoemaker Foundation | Board Chair
- Melissa Becker | Shoemaker Foundation
- Gary Berndt | City of Cle Elum; Upper Kittitas County Rotary; Washington State DNR
- Gina Harris | Resident
- Marc Kirkpatrick | Upper Kittitas County Rotary; Cle Elum Downtown Association
- Michelle Kuss-Cybula | Cle Elum-Roslyn School District
- Andrew Lyons | HopeSource
- Jay McGowan | City of Cle Elum
- Tom Missel | City of Roslyn
- Bill Vertrees | Leader of facilities design and construction for two large Washington universities. Retired.
A community recreation center is not being built at this time. The UKC CRCA is conducting a feasibility study with support from a consultant team with relevant expertise to determine if a community recreation center is desired, economically feasible, and worth pursuing. If the feasibility indicates that the answer is “Yes”, we will then proceed with detailed design, fundraising, and construction.
In late 2020, a 12.2-acre parcel of land near the Cle Elum-Roslyn schools and a commitment for $4 million were secured from Suncadia.
Our approach combines engagement with stakeholders and members of the community with quantitative and qualitative research. We would like to learn about people’s interests and priorities and understand underlying financial conditions that may support or challenge a potential community recreation center.
We are exploring the feasibility of building a community recreation center that would first and foremost meet the recreation and community needs of local residents. That is our primary goal. That being said, you can click here to learn more about how visitors can provide a source of funding for maintenance and operations.
In 2002, the City of Cle Elum and what is now Suncadia entered into a Development Agreement for Bullfrog Flats. One of many components of that Development Agreement was for Suncadia to donate 12 acres of land (located off Bullfrog Road near the schools) and certain amenities, expressly for a community center. In 2020, the City of Cle Elum and Suncadia reached an agreement regarding this long-standing obligation which provided for the transfer of 12 acres (almost complete) and contribution of $4 million in funding. So far, $400,000 has been received by the City of Cle Elum and is currently being used to fund the feasibility study. The funds remaining after the feasibility study, plus another $1.6 million due December 31, 2021, will be used toward detailed architectural design and construction. The final $2 million will be paid upon completion of a certain number of residential units in Bullfrog Flats. The $4 million is not, and was never intended to be enough to build and maintain a community center. The land and initial funding provide us with a substantial basis for securing additional donations and grants. However, additional funding will need to be raised.
No, this project is not connected to the 47 Degrees North development. This is a completely separate process that is being led by the Upper Kittitas County Community Recreation Center Alliance (UKC CRCA) with support from the City of Cle Elum, City of Roslyn, the Cle Elum-Roslyn School District, and the Shoemaker Foundation.
Survey responses were fairly evenly split between the three options presented. Some respondents felt that whatever was built would be too small by the time it was opened (due to population growth). Others felt that the smaller option had a higher chance of success because it had the lowest cost. We decided to “build for growth” with amenities that could not be added later (such as six lanes in the pool rather than four) but defer until later amenities that could easily be added later.
Yes and no! The preferred option represents what the community has told us they want, so we plan to include these amenities. However, as we continue to explore ways to reduce the cost of the facility to taxpayers, we will explore partnerships that, if amenities are added, may provide additional access to capital and to ongoing operating income.
No. The language in the 2002 Development Agreement between the City of Cle Elum and Suncadia was very clear. Suncadia promised to transfer 12 acres of land and provide some very basic site improvements, such as trails and outdoor restrooms. When the City obtained the land from Suncadia, they negotiated $4 million in lieu of site improvements. We wanted to understand what residents wanted for the property before proceeding with any site work.
The land and money from Suncadia are designated expressly for a community recreation center. The City does not have the option to use these assets for alternative purposes.
Why aren’t we using grants, donations, government funds, user fees and other sources rather than property taxes?
The financial model presented to the public in January 2022 assumed that $7 million could be raised from grants, donations, government funds, user fees and other sources. Even though 80% of respondents to the survey indicated that they would be willing to fund the facility under the financial model presented, as the project moves into schematic design, we are going to begin the process of securing funds for capital (construction) and ongoing operations/maintenance. Our goal is to “leave no stone unturned” and raise more than $7 million from non-tax sources. However, in almost all communities of our size, some level of property tax funding is required.
We are starting with a feasibility study. Rather than jumping straight into designing and building a new community center we want to identify programs and features that would meet the needs and interests of the community; estimate costs of designing, building, maintaining, and operating a community center; and determine if a community recreation center is desired, feasible, and worth pursuing.
Yes, there have been previous efforts around a community center. While those haven’t been successful, there’s been continued interest to create an amenity for residents. This effort is really focused on understanding community interest and priorities and determining if a community recreation center is feasible. The current phase is a feasibility study to answer those questions. There is also a 12.2-acre parcel of land near the Cle Elum-Roslyn schools and a commitment for $4 million were secured from Suncadia.
Yes. We understand that building “everything” now may have lower total costs due to economies of scale and future costs are likely to be higher than they are presently. However, building “everything” may cost more than the community is currently willing to spend or support. If the public chooses less than a full build-out as a “Phase I,” we will focus on a facility design that can be expanded in the future. While total costs will likely be higher in the long run, a phased project allows the highest priorities to be addressed now at a lower short-term cost to the community.
The community recreation center is intended to complement Cle Elum-Roslyn School District facilities and programs. CERSD will continue to provide facilities to support school sports and activities. The community recreation center could, as requested by the community’s input in the surveys and interviews, add a swimming pool as a new opportunity for youth and adults. In addition, CERSD does not have the space to accommodate the needs of various groups such as youth basketball, adult basketball, community volleyball and other non-school related sports groups as well as groups that support the arts. The schools also do not have adequate capacity for off-season practice or for spring sports practice when the outdoors are still under snow.
The Feasibility Study will determine whether the community is willing and able to finance a community recreation center. If the answer is “yes,” the Project Committee will explore and propose options for professional private or public management of the center. In any case, the Project Committee will ensure experienced personnel are in place for the ongoing operations and maintenance of the facility. The costs of these personnel will be included in the cost estimates presented to the public during the Feasibility Study, based on input from the consultants, who have experience in recreation center operations.
We are gratified by the community’s support for this long-desired facility for Upper County, and we understand, appreciate, and hope to address the concerns that exist. Whether you do or do not currently support the proposed community recreation center, we encourage EVERYONE to send questions, suggestions, comments etc. to [email protected]. We have worked hard to share complete and accurate information with the community, but this is a complicated project with many facets, so we understand that not everyone has all the facts and opinions. Thanks for your involvement to date, and please help us continue the conversation to bring this dream to reality!
There are several ways to get involved. You can: