Community center costs competes with tax priorities
$78 million is an incredibly large request for an all-or-nothing bond measure that combines a community center complete with aquatics center and upgrades to current sports fields.
In 2018, the original cost of replacement for an aquatic center to support sports teams and youth swimming lessons was between $4 million and $5 million, and $6 million for sport fields. The new proposal is a facility that includes a three-story building with a fitness center, multi-pool aquatics center and additional meeting rooms.
The cost of this facility is expected to add $500 in taxes to the annual tax burden of the median home price of $471,000 in Camas. This $500 will fund the building of the community center but will not include usage fees that are needed for operating and maintenance costs.
Another important consideration is tax priorities and the limits that citizens can pay. Our taxes support essential services provided by our city for roads, infrastructure and continued growth. Other spending priorities include the current and anticipated replacement school bond and levy requests. These are essential and increased funding for a $78 million community center directly competes with these tax priorities.
Taxes should be used to support essential city services, schools and green space, not an elaborate community center. This request needs to be reduced down to the essential services that our community needs and can afford.
Aquatics center would create ‘recreational hub,’ unite community
There is a perception that swimming is a niche sport, that it is an activity one does while playing at the lake or in a small pool. In truth, swimming is one of the most popular sports today. Competitive swimming, water polo and diving are growing exponentially. Swim lessons, water therapy, lap swimming and water aerobics offer even more opportunities. And unlike so many other sports, all of these activities can be enjoyed by every citizen, every day of the year, over a lifetime.
A community must answer the call to provide a proper facility that meets this expansive need. Like football, basketball and soccer, swimming requires a proper venue for training, hosting sanctioned events and providing spacious spectator amenities. We don’t expect our football or soccer teams to host games at an elementary school field or the school tennis team to ask private clubs to provide training facilities. Our community built high quality facilities for those sports because they cannot reasonably be built by individuals — because they require certain specifications be met by regulating bodies, because they require proper seating for spectators and because they bring the community together.
We can do the same for water sports and enjoy an even greater return on our investment, since the facilities can be used year-round by everyone.
With a regulation aquatic center, we can attract national and regional events as well, which benefits our business community. And together with our lakes and the miles of trails nearby, (the proposed Camas Community Aquatics Center) will create a recreational hub in a beautiful setting that inspires physical activity and brings our community together.