Supporters unveiled plans for a proposed recreation center-type project to Salina City Commissioners Monday.
Fieldhouse Salina would be more than simply a recreation center. Rather, it would be a multi-use facilty that would house basketball courts, volleyball courts, and indoor turf areas. The proposed $9 million facility, which has the support of the Salina Recreation Commission, would be built in the area of 5th and Iron, the location of the former Phoenix apartments.
Commissioners were told that the fieldhouse is necessary because there simply is not enough indoor facility room for all of the teams in Salina. Recreation commission basketball and volleyball leagues are at the verge of bing capped, meaning that there can be no more teams or participants. Space at USD 305 facilities and at KSU Salina is utilized, but is becoming scarce. The addition of 7th grade sports is a contributing factor.
The fieldhouse would also be utilized for tournaments, and special events, bringing potentially thousands of people to Salina each year.
A privately funded feasibilty study indicated that the facility could generate up to $10 million a year in Salina. The study also indicated that within three years the facilty could be at 95 percent cost recovery.
Fieldhouse Salina has the support of multiple organizations in the community, including the Salina Family YMCA. The Y and the fieldhouse would compliment one another, offering programs that don’t compete with one another.
Funding for the $9 million fieldhouse would be through a public / private partnership. Supporters have already raised about $2 million, and have pleged to raise another million. They are asking the city to contribute $6 million, to go along with the $3 million in private funds.
Supporters say that more money is also available, in the form of $2 million in new market tax credits and a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant. That money is not guaranteed, though.
Commissioners were told that a 1 mil increase in the mil levy would fund the city’s portion of the project.
Commissioners had some reservations about the project. Among other concerns, Mayor Aaron Householter indicated that he wasn’t comfortable with city paying 2/3 of the cost, and thought that a 50 /50 split was preferable. Vice Mayor Jon Blanchard went a step further, saying he thought that the city’s portion should be 1/3. Commissioner Kay Crawford indicated that she wasn’t even sure if she supported the project.
The commission did indicate that they thought voters should decide this issue. City Manager Jason Gage said that it would be tough to get the issue on the ballot in November. Among other things, he said that the county already has a tax question on the ballot, referring to a proposed jail expansion project. He indicated that typically the other commission would not add a second tax question to a ballot. Mayor Aaron Householter indicated, though, this might be a perfect time to add the question. “We could let voters decide if they want to build a place to lock our children up in, or a place for them to go to do something”.
City staff will prepare several options for the commission to consider.
Several other successful public / private projects were brought up during the discussion, including Dean Evans Stadium, the First Tee program, and the Salina Soccer Complex.