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Tualatin tests waters for a recreation center

The Tualatin Tomorrow project springboards the rec center idea back up for consideration

TUALATIN - A vague concept about a $16 million recreation center - check. Overwhelming community support for a capital bond and user fees to pay for the center - not yet.

On Dec. 17, the Tualatin City Council gave the go-ahead to city staff to begin testing the waters for community support for a recreation/community center in Tualatin.

While the November general elections are about 10 months away, the city plans to kick its efforts into high gear. Consultants will first survey residents to determine if they would support a recreation center, what types of facilities they'd want to see included and if they'd be willing to pay for operations at the center through user fees, possibly connected to residential water bills. A second survey will poll residents on the specifics of the center, including costs and activities.

'It's a question we need to answer,' said Mayor Lou Ogden. 'Is there a public demand for it? If the answer is 'no,' I'm sure it's not 'no, not never.' It would just mean not now.'

This isn't the first attempt to bring a recreation center to Tualatin. In 2000, voters in Tigard and Tualatin voted down a ballot measure that would have created the Atfalati Recreation Partnership District. The district would have been a joint venture with Washington County, the Tigard-Tualatin School District and the cities of Tigard and Tualatin. The district, which was advanced by grassroots efforts, would have provided recreation centers in both cities, a bridge over the Tualatin River connecting local parks, more sports fields, and activities and facilities for youth.

Since that measure failed, the city of Tualatin conducted a broad facilities visioning focus, where a recreation center lagged in terms of community support behind a library-improvement project and Tualatin River greenway expansion.

With the city's $9.1 million library-expansion project expected to wrap up this fall, city officials are again turning their gaze toward a recreation center.

A recreation/community center received high marks among residents who participated in the Tualatin Tomorrow visioning project.

'The bond measure would be a fruit of this (visioning process),' said Frank Bubenik, co-chair of the vision implementation committee.

A community-gathering center for the arts and a recreation facility with indoor activities is included in the strategic action plan, the product of the $200,000 visioning project.

The Tualatin City Council is using the visioning project's strategic plan as a springboard for the recreation center. But councilors still want the first round of survey questions to ask residents what they want included in a recreation center.

And again the city is looking for a partnership in the center. The city is expected to begin talks for informal consent with the Tigard-Tualatin School District on possibly using about 8 acres of land behind Tualatin Elementary School on Southwest 95th Avenue for the site of the recreation center.

The possible capital-bond measure for the recreation center could also include another $10 million to fund further Tualatin River greenway expansion.