District's defeat puzzles advocates of rec center


— Nearly two weeks have passed, and members of the West Routt Recreation Committee are still stunned the community could reject the formation of a local recreation district.
In the Nov. 7 election, voters in the Hayden School District not only rejected plans to increase taxes but also the formation of a legal taxing body.
"I'm very disappointed the voters turned down the formation of the recreation district," said Scott Mader, a member of the committee's board. "I can't figure it out."
Mader can understand why a majority of the voters rejected a $5.6 million construction bond and a $400,000 operating mill levy for a recreation center, but he can't understand the defeat of the district.
The two taxing questions were turned down by about 75 percent of the vote. The district question was closer with about 60 percent casting votes against the formation of the district.
"To have voters kill the district was discouraging," he said. "It raises the question of whether people in this community want recreational services for their kids and the community.
"I thought the district would pass. I knew it was going to be an uphill battle for the tax questions."
Had voters approved the formation of the district, the five-member elected board could have gotten the town one step closer to getting funds for a recreation center, Mader said.
"If the district would have been formed, the board could have formally went out and pursued grants," he said. The officials "who give grants want to know that there is a government entity in place and there is accountability.
"A formed district can make definite decisions. Right now, we just have a committee with no authority. We need to have a board with authority that can make decisions."
Had the district been approved, the election results for the board of directors would have counted. The members of the board would have been Michael Luppes, Alex Epp, Tammie Mader, Richard Bush and Eva Gibbon.
The committee members will now try to regroup to make a decision on what to do next. The committee was expected to meet Tuesday night at the Town Hall.
Some board members believe they need to move forward and find out who is willing to continue working on the idea.
"We need to find out who is still interested in moving forward," said Mark Klapperich, who is the co-chairman of the committee.
Mader agreed.
"There are some worn-out and frustrated people," Mader said of the committee. "But I don't think we are going to bury this thing."
Mader and fellow board member Gibbon believe that perhaps the committee needs to focus on getting the recreation district approved before it moves on to asking residents to approve a tax increase.
"I think we can come back and try to get the district in place," Mader said.
The main issue that confronts the committee is how to fund another election.
The committee was able to meet the election fees and other necessary costs with $18,000 provided by the Babson-Carpenter Foundation.
"We have to take a look at the funding available," Mader said. "It will take money to get the district question on the ballot, and that will be another hurdle."
Gibbon agrees.
"A lot of money went down the tube, which is a bummer," she said. To move forward, "the committee has to discuss this further and determine how much energy we have. There was a lot of negativity. We need to find out how much support there is out there."
The proposal was the culmination of years of work done by the committee. The committee proposed its plan to the public at the beginning of the year.
Initially, the committee proposed a $14 million recreation facility but pared down the proposal a couple of times.


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