Survey reflects opinions on rec center

Sara Van Cleve
Posted

The neighborhood group Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community asked residents of the Ralston Road corridor what type of recreation they’d like to see in the area and the results are in.

Radian, an architectural group for community initiatives, was hired by the city of Arvada to conduct a survey in June and put together possible conceptual ideas for a recreation center in the Ralston Road area based on public feedback.

On July 24, Yael Nyholm, director of Radian, presented the survey results and the initial concepts for a possible recreation facility.

Radian distributed 1,000 surveys in the Ralston Road area and also put the survey online and on Facebook. A little more than 10 percent of the population, 350 people, responded which is a little more than average for surveys of this kind, Nyholm said.

The top three responses, in order, for what type of recreation residents would like to see in the area were an outdoor pool, an indoor pool and a recreation center including, for example, a weight room.

Residents near Ralston Road used to be served by Fischer Pool and a recreation center that included an ice arena.

Nyholm said the residents that responded want to see recreational opportunities for the region first, then the city at large as well as opportunities for seniors and youth.

Based on the responses, Nyholm presented to a group of residents three possible recreation facility configurations.

The first option is a 21,232-square-foot outdoor pool; second is a 29,567-square-foot outdoor pool and fitness center; and third is a 35,199-square-foot outdoor and indoor pool with a fitness center. All three options also include restrooms and a locker room.

The third option, which was popular among many residents, would provide more opportunities and options during the summer months, Nyholm said.

“The $3.1 million City Council has allocated for a center isn’t going to build any of the three alternatives that have been identified,” City Manager Mark Deven said. “The $3.1 million would build a good portion of it, but it wouldn’t build the entire center. Also, we don’t have, at this point, land acquired for this facility … the $3.1 million is really a good-faith, set-aside allocation for a facility, not understanding what would be necessary for the facility, but we felt that we needed to set aside something to meet the needs of this community.”

Deven said to acquire the land and build a facility would cost about $7-8 million.

Though land has not yet been acquired, the city and the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority are looking into the possibility of building a recreation center on the north side of Ralston Road where Arvada Square is.

AURA Executive Director Maureen Phair said the goal is to redevelop the north side using mixed-use development including shopping, restaurants, multi-family residential and a recreation center.

Phair said the redevelopment of the north side, including a recreation facility, could be funded through the revenues produced by the redevelopment of the Arvada Plaza, including a Wal-Mart store, approved by City Council 6-1 July 15, after the initial $5.8 million is refunded to Industrial Realty Group for public improvements.

The 3 percent sales tax from the redevelopment goes to AURA through November 2027 because it is an urban renewal district; Phair said the Wal-Mart is expected to generate $1.5 million per year in sales tax.

Phair said she expects the refund to be paid off in seven years, but a recreational facility could come sooner than that — as early as 2015 or 2016 — through the issuance of bonds paid off with the redevelopment revenues.

Phair said the tax revenues generated by the south redevelopment will be used to redevelop the north end, but there is no contractual obligation for AURA to use the funds for the north redevelopment.

Deven said as the project progresses the city can consider taking a measure such as that to show good faith to the community.

The plans are still very conceptual and in the early phases of the planning process.

Residents expressed support for the recreational facility, but also concerns about increasing population and security.

Deven said over the city plans to budget an increase of eight new officers with the Arvada Police Department over the next 10 years that could address concerns with security.

“I do have some concerns that being near a Wal-Mart and near a major public thoroughfare like Ralston Road, having children using an outdoor pool,” said resident Jelena Woehr. “But I am optimistic that we have one of the best police departments in the area and I hope they can, especially with additional staffing, address those changes.”

Because the three alternatives discussed are very conceptual, the plans can be adjusted to account for an increase in population, Nyholm said.

Nyholm also collected additional feedback and comments from residents at the meeting, including the possibility of looking into having an outdoor pool with a retractable roof and treating it with salt water instead of chlorine, making it a unique destination in the Denver metro area.

“I’m excited that we’re going to hopefully have a pool in the area,” Woehr said. “I’d like to know a little bit more about the time table, obviously those things are going to come up as they move forward with the planning meetings. I would like, as the City Manager Mr. Deven, mentioned some sort of a good-faith measure to assure the community that the funds from the development on the south side of Ralston are genuinely going to be brought back into the neighborhood on the north side.”

Woehr said she likes the third plan the most.

“I think that it would meet the most community needs and be most forward-thinking as the population grows and we bring in multi-family housing,” she said.

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