City still debating middle school gym request

Price more than doubles after district speaks to contractor

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story attributed a quote to the wrong person. This version has been updated with the correct person, Joel Sheridan, attributed to the quote.

Craig City Council members said they were, for the most part, supportive of the Moffat County School District's request for $150,000 to help build a second, full-size gymnasium at Craig Middle School.

However, they were less receptive to the district's new request - $365,000.

District officials originally asked the Council at its Feb. 24 meeting if it would provide funds to expand a smaller physical education space into a larger gym.

School District superintendent Pete Bergmann said the district had $150,000 budgeted for the small P.E. space, as well as $100,000 from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to help fund the project.

In total, the expanded gym space was estimated to cost between $450,000 and $500,000, and Bergmann asked the Council for $150,000 to help the School District make up the difference.

Joel Sheridan, School District construction liaison, said Tuesday the original numbers presented at the Council meeting Feb. 24 were off for two reasons: The district's original financials were wrong, and city officials said they would need a bigger gym than what was presented.

District officials did not know its $150,000 already budgeted for the small P.E. space had been included in the expanded gym's original price, Sheridan said. What they thought would be a $500,000 gym actually is a $776,000 gym.

Dave Pike, Craig Parks and Recreation Department director, also said he would need an additional 12 feet of width in the building to have enough space for recreational leagues.

District officials reiterated their earlier statements that the project still would be a boon for the community, despite the higher than expected price tag.

The School District doesn't need a second, full-size gym, Sheridan said. The currently planned P.E. room would satisfy the district's entire curriculum for its students.

However, because district officials know that a portion of the community thinks there is not enough gym space in town, they wanted to offer a chance for the city to help build a new gym.

"No one should approach this as the city giving the School District $365,000," Sheridan said. "We saw this as an opportunity for the Council. You give us the money to complete this project, we give you a gym that wouldn't exist otherwise. We look at it as a pretty fair trade."

But, Sheridan added, city officials need to weigh what they believe is best for the city.

City Manager Jim Ferree said the city has $431,000 left over from the 2008 budget, as well as about $220,000 more than the city's target for 25 percent reserves in its general fund, giving it about $651,000 in unbudgeted funds.

Pike said there also could be another $200,000 in his department's budget. The city applied for a $200,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to repair the City Park wave pool, but budgeted to pay for the entire project itself.

Pike said he didn't want the wave pool project to be contingent on a GOCO grant, which he gave a "better than average" chance of being awarded. If the grant is approved, however, Pike said his department would have $200,000 to spend elsewhere.

Councilor Bill Johnston, who said he left the Council's meeting two weeks ago thinking he would support the district's proposal, said he could not anymore because the asking price more than doubled.

"At $365,000, that philosophy goes in the toilet," he said.

Johnston proposed asking that all city staff get together and see if they could reach an agreement on how to spend the current surplus. The city has cut back in other departments in the past years, Johnston said, and he wanted to know what other projects the city could finish instead of building a gym "we won't even own."

The Council did not take any action on the issues Tuesday. The School District's general contractor, The Neenan Co., has given a deadline on March 30 for a decision of whether to build a P.E. space or a gym.

The Council next meets at 7:30 p.m. March 24, which will be its last chance to decide on a course of action.

Comments

als362 5 years, 1 month ago

I was all for this when they wanted $150,000.00. But now they want more than double that, $365,000.00. I don't know if the city can afford that at this time. I would still however, rather pay the amount they want now, than spend millions+ on a special building for a rec center that only a few will use. I would like to hear what others think about this.

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taxslave 5 years, 1 month ago

Last weekend in Grand Junction, Haliburton laid off 1400 oil field workers. They, Haliburton, used a "show of force" at the layoff.

This was personally witnessed. MSM news says, "some men".

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lonelyone 5 years, 1 month ago

You know als, Dave Pike is a huge supporter of the Rec Center too. Seems to me that this is his way of getting it pushed through.........maybe not the whole sha-bang, but still gym space for his parks and rec dept. I think if there is a surplus of money in the city's reserve, then it should be used for City stuff. As the article says let the depts check to see what they need first or better yet, save it and keep it for those emergencies that come up through out the year. Sometimes you guys sound like little kids........you've got some money in your pockets and gee we need to spend it before it burns a hole in your pocket. Keep the money where it belongs, with the city not the school, cuz they are beginning to sound like the hospital.........!!

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grannyrett 5 years, 1 month ago

With the economy gone to hell in a handbasket, it would seem a good idea to keep a surplus in the reserve. Sales tax can't be counted on the way it has in the past. Even in a little town like Craig, people are losing their jobs because of lack of work in oil field related jobs, construction jobs, and others. Just because there is a surplus today, doesn't mean it will still be there tomorrow. $150,000 yesterday turned into $365,000 today. What will it be tomorrow?

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