Plans laid out for rec center, park in Elizabeth

District voters will weigh request for increase in mill levy

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A vision for sweeping improvements to Casey Jones Park and a proposed Elizabeth recreation center was presented on Feb. 8 by Mike Barney, the executive director of the Elizabeth Park and Recreation District.
 
Voters in the district will be asked on May 3 to increase the mill levy to support the project, which would have some other funding sources.
 
The Feb. 8 meeting was held at the Casey Jones Pavilion, where Barney presented the park’s master plan and general information about the potential recreation center on the property. The rec center planning committee was in attendance for the trial presentation, and Barney plans to give the presentation several times ahead of the May 3 vote.
 
The new and improved Casey Jones Park would consist of 103 developed acres that would include a community recreation center, improved rodeo grounds and event arena, campground expansion, homestead education center, artificial turf ballfield, dog park, fieldhouse/ag building, connective and accessible pedestrian pathways/trail system, and improved roadways and parking.
 
The most significant piece of the Casey Jones Park Master Plan is the community recreation center. The 42,000-square-foot recreation space would include a large multi-use aquatics center with connected outdoor patio, state-of-the-art gymnasium, fitness area, walking track, childcare room, program/party room, locker rooms, restrooms, and lobby with a reception desk.
 
Barney’s presentation stressed that the new recreation center will enhance the lives of Elizabeth residents, acting as a multi-use space for people of all ages. According to the presentation, the rec center will be a place for social enrichment, activities for active adults and seniors, fitness and wellness resources and programs, youth after school and summer camp programs, and swim lessons. The center will also be a teen destination for programing and events and will have expanded youth and adult sports leagues. Barney also stressed that rec center will create many local job opportunities.
 
In addition to the recreation center, the district detailed plans for the construction of a 32,600-square-foot fieldhouse/ag building on the property. The space would act as an indoor sports facility and event space. It would house a large climbing wall, a dedicated room for programs, parties, and meetings, commercial kitchen, staff offices and administrative space, restroom and locker rooms, and outdoor plaza with space for a vendor alley extension.
 
The projected construction costs break down as follows:
 
Community Recreation Center — $23.5 million
 
Rodeo Grounds and Event Center — $9.7 million
 
Fieldhouse/Ag Building — $10.9 million
 
Campground Expansion — $450,000
 
Artificial Turf Ballfield — $800,000
 
Dog Park — $17,000
 
Homestead Education Center — To be determined
 
Total — Roughly $45.3 million
 
The Elizabeth Park and Recreation District plans to obtain funding for this extensive project from many sources. There would be issuance of Certificates of Participation (COPs) to finance construction costs over a period of 30 years. These function much like municipal bonds. The district would also pursue additional state Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) grant funding through the Community Impact Program and request project contributions from Elbert County and the Town of Elizabeth. The district would develop and offer naming rights and sponsorship opportunities as appropriate and pursue improvements over time rather than all at once.
 
To attain additional funding, the district will ask resident electors on May 3 to increase the district mill levy from 2.466% to 4.932%. Barney’s presentation said that for a home valued at $500,000, the annual recreation district tax would double from $88 to $176.
 
Barney encourages residents to contact their personal accountant or legal counsel to calculate the exact increase for a specific property.
 
Moving forward, the district will continue to work with Elbert County on review and approval of the Casey Jones Park PUD application. The Elizabeth Park and Recreation District Board of Directors will assess options to contract for recreation center construction. If the ballot measure passes on May 3, the board will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to identify contractors for construction to begin in early 2023.
 
If the ballot measure fails, the board of directors will assess options, likely to ask voters again in the future. They will pursue improvements as existing funds allow.
 
For more information on the recreation center, visit elizabethpr.com/rec-center-project.
 
Barney will also be holding informational community meetings at the Casey Jones Pavilion on the following dates:
 
● Feb. 22
 
● March 11
 
● March 17
 
● March 29
 
Barney is currently working to offer an informational session in Spring Valley Ranch but a date has not been set.
elizabeth, rec center, casey jones park, colorado

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