I have served on two and maybe three (I have lost count) Community Center Committees since the 1990s. I had always felt the city needed such a facility. Those committees usually got to the same point: namely that the final step in proceeding died at the go ahead point. In the last committee I served on, a plan was put forth which garnered real citizen support. Realizing that we did not need a Taj Mahal for a city our size, a plan was developed utilizing a one-half cent sales tax that would bring in about $600-$700,000. After working with architects, it was felt we could afford to build an appromately $4,000,000 facility. This would enable the retirement of construction bonds and perhaps some toward staffing costs. So, several public meetings were held to review features to be included, and costs to citizens for family usage. Many of the same items as the current proposal were included. The gym, I believe, was not included. However, for the first time, citizens indicated that they were willing to pay $150-200 per year for a family membership. When the YMCA entered the picture through our former city manager, the committee investigated how other cities currently partnering with the YMCA liked that arrangement. Documents or tapes exist of those investigations, and most were not favorable due to costs associated with the YMCA. We also toured centers in Platte City and Belton. And, at that time, there was only one community center in the entire state that was self-supporting in its operations, and it was a joint venture between two counties on the eastern side of the state. And at that point, the project just melted away.
I recognize that this information is several years old now. But, the same generic problems exist: how to construct, retire bonds, and staff the building. The bottom line is that after many, many years supporting the need for an Excelsior Springs Community Center, I find myself unable to support the $18,000,000 facility presently proposed. It is too costly, too big for our needs, and sure to eventually become a drain on city finances. The public can’t even seem to be advised of operating costs, staffing requirements, etc. It almost seems like a form of the statement by Nancy Pelosi, “We have to pass this tax to find out what is in it.”
– Melvan Boyer