If you go
What: Community Recreation Center Steering Committee
When: 7 p.m. March 17
Where: Craig City Hall, 300 W. Fourth St.
• All community members are encouraged to attend.
At its Wednesday meeting, the Moffat County Tourism Association:
• Approved spending $268 to sponsor the KRAI live broadcast of the State Wrestling Tournament on Feb. 19 to 21 in Denver.
• Approved spending up to $1,800 for four pages of advertising in the Welcome to Craig magazine, published by the Daily Press.
• Approved spending $529 for various Daily Press advertisements in 2009.
• Did not approve renewing advertising in RV Journal because board members said they preferred saving money and putting it toward a professional consultant who could advise what advertising is more effective than others.
• Approved up to $500 for a new printer for MCTA Director Michelle Perry.
When Tony St. John moved with his wife and their three children to Craig around 1980, it was the middle of winter, and there was not much for his children to do.
Six months later, he became involved with a campaign to bring a YMCA gymnasium to the area. After that failed to materialize, he joined the effort to build an ice arena at Loudy-Simpson Park.
He helped start tee ball and soccer programs, and then Trailbusters, a program that provides transportation and all-day ski instruction to local youths.
All these initiatives had something in common, St. John told the Moffat County Tourism Association at its Wednesday meeting, something an ongoing effort to build a community recreation center in Craig has not yet had.
The YMCA, Ice Arena and other past recreation projects resulted from community partnerships, he said. The Community Recreation Center Steering Committee should get back to that philosophy.
"I think we've not been doing it right," St. John said. "This community recreation center needs to be a team effort."
Otherwise, the project may never get out of committee, he added.
Similar opposition stood against nearly every other recreation project in recent memory, though time has proven those to be worthwhile community investments, St. John said.
He pointed to the City Park wave pool, built around 1985. Many in town rallied against the pool, but thousands of people use it every year.
Woodbury Park, built in the 1990s, was an unpopular move by the city, but now it joins Loudy-Simpson as a host for Triple Crown Sports, a national youth sports organization.
Loudy-Simpson itself began as a controversial issue, St. John added, but has become a cornerstone for the local community.
"That park has really been a moneymaker for all of us and given our kids something to do," he said. "A recreation center could be the same thing. I really believe that. It will do wonders for our community."
The MCTA board did not disagree, but members pointed out the group could not provide any funding for a construction project. By county resolution, lodging tax money can be spent only on marketing and advertising, with the exception of funding a visitor center.
"We might be able to help you do brochures to promote it, but we can't help you build it," MCTA board member Cindy Looper said.
The Recreation Center Steering Committee is not asking for money, St. John said, though it would be happy if local organizations or businesses want to contribute.
Its purpose now is to approach people to support the cause, he said.
The MCTA board is willing to look into it.
"We do like the concept of the project," MCTA Board President Tammie Thompson-Booker said, but she agreed with Looper that funding is a sticking point.
MCTA board members will not support a move to repeal the county's lodging tax - which supplies the organization's entire budget - in favor of a city lodging tax that will fund a recreation center. State law prohibits cities and counties from having separate lodging taxes in the same area.
However, board members said they would be willing to consider support of a special taxing district, which would not require the county tax be repealed.
MCTA board member Frank Moe, who co-owns the Best Western Deer Park Inn and Suites, said he would support additional lodging taxes if it also would benefit his business and the local economy.
Namely, he said he would want any new lodging taxes to go toward a facility with convention space. That could bring in more corporate events and help fill hotels with new guests who would spend money around Moffat County.
Despite the lack of consensus about funding, St. John left the meeting happy.
Moe volunteered to attend future Recreation Center Steering Committee meetings, which is what St. John said he wanted.
"I feel like we're just starting," he said. "But, maybe we can start pulling the community together on this."
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org