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Wellness and Recreation Alliance presents Rec Center proposal

News 2 at Ten
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 11:56 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The North Platte Area Wellness and Recreation Alliance presented their proposal to update and expand the Rec Center to the North Platte City Council Tuesday.

The $45 million project includes additional tennis and basketball courts for volleyball and pickleball tournaments. It also includes an indoor track, expanded cardio and weight rooms, as well as two swimming pools. One of the pools will be a competitive pool that will be used for swimming competitions.

“As you know the motivation, culture, and fitness culture that is in North Platte is really amazing and we got some really good things going on in North Platte and we just feel like we need an improved facility to bring us forward to compete with some of the other communities,” alliance member Leland Poppe said.

Aside from fundraising and applying for grant funds, the alliance plans to bring forward a half cent sales tax proposal to fund the project. Preliminary figures show the sales tax would generate around $3.2 million annually. The proposed additional half-cent sales tax would sunset when the bond is paid off.

“As I mentioned, we are already paying this tax when we go to other communities, we’re paying for their amenities and facilities like this so why can’t we do something like here in North Platte and have visitors fund some of our amenities?” said alliance member Megan McGown. “We are also exploring some public-private partnerships, one of which is with the public schools where they would agree to pay some sort of financial portion to the city for the of maintenance for the swimming pool because we are trying to build a swimming pool that meets the needs of the swim team.”

The project also calls for a relocation of the skate park and the renovation of Cody Park, which is nearing 100 years old and has outlasted its expected lifespan. The Alliance recommends including in the total project costs up to $7 million for pool upgrades, including the pool house.

The total cost of the project, including the Rec Center renovation and expansion, skate park relocation and enhancement and Cody Park revitalization is approximately $55 million plus an additional $10 million fundraising goal for the maintenance reserve fund.

The proposed timeline includes a council work session in June and council vote in July before to allow the sales tax initiative on the November ballot.

According to the press release, the existing North Platte Recreation Center was built in 1976 and has served as a community hub for physical fitness as well as for social opportunities for a wide variety of ages and backgrounds. The nearly 50-year-old recreation center has had regular maintenance to keep the facility operational; however, the building has not undergone any significant improvements during the past 46 years. The infrastructure is aging and requires more and more maintenance expenditures, with necessary infrastructure replacement looming in the near future.

The Scottsbluff YMCA has expressed interest in managing the property.

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