By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
Commerce residents may have a chance to vote on whether they want a pool and recreation center built on the May 2014 voting ballot.
The conversation came about through the city pool closing down in summer of 2012 due to a broken pump and was deemed too costly to repair.
Residents from members of the Commerce TigerSharks Swim team to former Commerce City Councilmember Tony Henry have asked the city to look into possible solutions for the broken pool on Park Street.
“We’ve been certainly involved with this for the past several months,” Commerce Mayor John Ballotti said.
According to Henry, a new pool and recreation center are crucial to Commerce’s positive growth.
“It is vital that we have a rec center and swimming pool,” he said, proposing that the council look into an indoor/outdoor pool and recreation center in Commerce. “We have been working and talking with the board with workshopping to see how we can get this done.”
Henry said the outdoor pool would be used for recreation and the indoor one would be for swim meets throughout the year. The recreation center would have a gym and meeting rooms for senior citizens of Commerce, which Henry said would go along well with Commerce now being officially recognized as a certified retirement community.
The cost for the pool and recreation center is currently at $4 million, but Henry said as a former councilmember he knows it is better to overestimate the cost than to underestimate it. Henry said he expects the final cost to be significantly lower than the current estimate.
Another positive thing Henry said is Commerce is eligible for what is called a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) program.
An NMTC is a tax incentive for investors to invest in low-income rural communities to spur economic growth.
“We do qualify for that,” he said, adding that the incentive could pay for up to $800,000 of the project. “We could get 20 to 25 percent funded off the top.”
Henry said he has been moving things quickly and said for the city to expect a petition asking for the Commerce Economic Development Corporation to help fund the project within two weeks.
“We should put the petition on the ballot to let them (the voters) decide,” he said. “We just need to get jump started.”
The council can expect another updated report from Henry during the October meeting, Henry said.
“If we don’t talk about it then we won’t do it,” he said. “We need to do something and we need to do it now.”
Ballotti said the council will discuss the possible project and awaits Henry’s next update.
“I assure you that we will take this under advisement,” he said.