RAYMORE — Last Tuesday night, the Raymore City Council got together to discuss what steps they should take moving forward to get a community/civic/recreation center built in their city limits.
“I want to take us through how we got to where we are now,” Mayor Peter Kerckhoff said to open the meeting. He proceeded to review the events leading up to this important work session meeting.
Kerckhoff cited how in a 2006 survey conducted by the City of Raymore, an indoor community center was the second biggest concern among its residents (roads took first place). He then went on to recap the meetings in 2012 and 2013 that began the process of determining whether or not a recreational center was feasible for the City.
The latest meeting among the Council was when they rejected a study that would determine the level of public support for an indoor/outdoor recreational facility along with a market study to find what other similar facilities are in the area.
“We envisioned something smaller but as we continued to talk about it, it grew larger, larger, and larger,” said Kerckhoff. The mayor then went on to explain that everyone on the Council agrees that the building needs to be built without raising taxes, “…which puts the cap at about $10 million,” he said.
“It has to go before the voters first and they have to approve it.”
“I’d like to offer a possible solution,” Kerckhoff continued. The mayor urged the five councilmembers that voted down the feasibility study at the last meeting (Jeff Stevens, Ryan Wescoat, Kevin Kellogg, Derek Moorhead, and Charlene Hubach) to understand the importance of this study and consider making a motion to look at it again at the next official meeting.
As the item was discussed, however, it seemed more and more like a reconsideration of the original motion would not happen.
Councilmember Ryan Wescoat spoke first, stating that the interest shown by Peculiar and Lee’s Summit in outdoor recreational facilities makes it illogical for Raymore to consider the same facility. Mayor Kerckhoff would later say that it is not a good idea to try to compete with Lee’s Summit and that it may be smarter to just focus on the indoor aspects of a community center.
“I think we need to re-tailor the whole feasibility study and eliminate that portion,” he said.
Councilmember Charlene Hubach spoke to the personnel changes made in city council and the park board since this idea was first brought up. She doesn’t believe there has been enough personnel continuity to make this issue still valid among city leadership today.
“I approve what Mr. Wescoat is saying,” she said.
“We’re trying to reinvent the wheel…We have physical therapy places, we have fitness places, and others.”
Sonja Abdelgawad, one of the three councilmembers who voted in favor of the study (along with Robert Piepho and Jason Boehner) was not present at the work session. Piepho and Boehner alone defended the idea of a feasibility study.
“A written survey…tells you what people think right now. It gives you a snapshot. It’s present-day thinking, period,” Piepho said.
“It’s my belief that we should spend $78,000 to get the answers that we’re asking today.”
Councilmember Wescoat responded to Piepho, stating, “For the size that we are now…has to be a citizen survey to know what the citizens will support.” He also went on to explain that a community pool would not be self-sustained but that it would be a burden on the taxpayer.
Councilmember Kevin Kellogg referred to a Raymore plan from years ago to build an aquatic center.
“The people would not support it because they didn’t want their taxes to be that high,” he said.
“That’s kind of where I’m at with this.”
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