To the editor:

It is not the “tiny innocent looking” 0.39 cent recreation center tax we should fear — though I’m not sure how “that” will begin to support just the projected annual interest of $3,352,000, let alone millions in construction, operation and subsidy costs. Anyone who really cares about the city, its businesses, stores and outlets should vote against the city encumbering $86 million debt that can, according to the ballot, top a whopping $150 million; and the bait-and-switch city property tax removal plan is now off the ballot.

Fruita’s center cost $12.5 million, Montrose’s $28 million. And while Montrose’s is “just” 18,000 feet smaller than ours, it does so somehow costing $50 million dollars less? Montrose’s operation is in a special city and county exempt recreation district that has existed since 1956. Regardless, Grand Junction residents will still have to pay admission, various other fees and rentals to be determined, all which always go up. Interestingly enough, the local existing health clubs rates are cheaper than Montrose, Delta, Durango and even close by Fruita.

As proven across the country, recreation centers lose massive amounts of taxpayer money in their operations. Maybe they can afford to, but can we? And why should we? That is just bad business and bad government. The current proposed combined annual “operating subsidy” of $1,485,000 can be increased by any amount at any time to further financially support the center by a simple city council member vote. Just watch.

Let’s not forget the remaining 130 acres of Matchett land that city parks and rec conservatively estimates will cost at least $180,000 per acre to develop when another trip to the taxpayer trough is needed.

The bottom line is that business people across the area should band together and support their many dozens of big and small Grand Junction area business contemporaries this center will hurt or put out of business. Don’t fall for the feel-good, grape-flavored Kool-Aid of this absolutely-not-needed $86 million business- and credit-killing money pit.

Jim Shults

Grand Junction