TRAVERSE CITY — A multi-million dollar community center proposal elicited chilly responses from some Grand Traverse County Parks and Recreation commissioners.
Questions about the group behind the proposed community center and how to fund a new center were chief among concerns voiced by board members during a recent parks commission meeting.
Jason Jones, the county’s parks and recreation director, went before the parks board Sept. 19 to report on the group’s progress. His report was met with surprise from several board members.
“I think I’m speaking for all of us when I say obviously we didn’t know much about all of this,” parks board member Alisa Kroupa said.
Members of the group, which formed late last year to discuss replacing the county’s Civic Center with a larger community center, include Jones, county commission Chair Herb Lemcool, parks Commissioner Scott Robertson and three other community members.
Jones, in response to board members’ surprise, said in November he started giving monthly reports to parks commissioners on the group’s progress. That ended in February when board members said to cease the reports, Jones said, though he acknowledged there’s no record of this in commission meeting minutes.
Several commissioners said they wanted more representation in the group and called for their meetings to be made public.
Commissioners also questioned how a new community center would be funded. Early estimates suggest such a project would cost about $16 million.
“I can’t see the public supporting a millage for this,” board Vice President Rodetta Harrand said.
Christine Maxbauer, the board’s president, pointed out Grand Traverse Bay YMCA is building a recreation center. Maxbauer questioned whether there’s a need in the county for two new recreation facilities.
Board member Peter Doren said he didn’t want to support any project that could result in substantial increases to traffic and activity in the neighborhood around the Civic Center.
Commissioner William Dorrier supports the idea.
“I’ve been a citizen of this community for about 20 years now and I think we need a legitimate community center,” Dorrier said. “This sounds like it might end up being one.”
Kroupa said she “loved” the recreational opportunities proposed as part of a new community center, but said funding remains the issue.
“I would love to go to that, but I also want to buy everything in the store and I don’t have enough in my checkbook,” she said.
Jones said the group will continue to meet to vet ideas about the community center.