Park district — Board will present voters with a proposal that would raise $19.9 million to renovate aquatic center

It took some scrambling to make sure the numbers were right, but the Chehalem Park and Recreation District board voted unanimously July 24 to put forth a $19.9 million bond measure on the November ballot that would renovate the aging Chehalem Aquatic and Fitness Center.

“When the CPRD board voted to put up the bond measure it was an affirmation of the work we’ve been doing for the last six months trying to educate the community that it really is the time to do this,” Pool Committee chairman Jim Seymour said. “We were just really thrilled by their decision.”

Based on a survey the district conducted in June, board member Mike Ragsdale voiced his concern that the polling data for a measure that large did not meet the criteria set forth by the board when it tasked the committee with raising support for the measure.

The survey did show that 56 percent of voters would vote to do basic renovations to the pool at a cost of $8.88 per month for a home valued at $229,000, but that would raise just $12 million, which the board and committee agreed would not be adequate enough to even upgrade only the pool.

However, it was determined at the meeting that those figures were based on old data about the tax base in the district.

Based on new debt-service figures, CPRD superintendent Don Clements told the board that an increased rate of 45.25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value per month would raise $20 million. At that rate, the owner of a home valued at $229,000 would pay $8.64 per month or $103 annually.

Ragsdale complained that he had been asking for months for debt service data that lined up with those used in the survey, because without it the board could not do its due diligence on any proposed bond measure.

But with the figures lining up so well with the survey results, Ragsdale said putting up the measure was a “no brainer” and the proposal passed 4-0, with board member Mike McBride attending the meeting via telephone and board member Peter Siderius absent.

“We understand there should be a debate about it,” Seymour said. “In the end it was a unanimous vote for everybody that was there, so I feel like we made our case.

Before the vote, Seymour updated the board on the committee’s plan to raise $40,000 so that it can continue its campaign in support of the measure all the way up to election day.

The committee has already raised $4,000 for the the plan, which included consulting with political strategist Jake Weigler of Path to Victory. The major components of the campaign are to canvass 10,000 homes in the district, implement a phone bank to explain issues to voters and distribute three direct mail flyers to all voters in the district.

“We understand this is a big ask of the community, but it’s the right thing to do,” Seymour said. “We firmly believe that the pool has served so many people so well and there’s a huge cost to letting it fall apart.”

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