Recreation benefits body, mind, community |

Recreation benefits body, mind, community

Christina M. Currie

Increased physical activity means better health and better grades and what a recreation center does for the body and mind, officials say, it will also do for a town.

The benefits of the citizen-proposed recreation center are far reaching. They affect the economy, individual health and community health.

“I think it would be a wonderful thing for the overall health of the entire community,” said Amy Knights, wellness educator for The Memorial Hospital.

She said a recreation center would give residents more options for exercise as well as an indoor location for that exercise.

According to Knights, 31 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese, 34 percent are overweight and 15 percent of youth are overweight. That leads to 300,000 deaths a year from heart disease, diabetes, stroke or weight-related cancers.

“Hopefully a recreation center can lower some of those risks,” she said. “I really hope people use it.”

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Exercise releases endorphins that help alleviate depression. It’s a stress reliever, a social activity and it increases energy, Knights said.

Increased physical activity isn’t just good for the body, it’s good for the brain and some officials believe providing youth with alternative activities would benefit them not only physically but also academically.

A study conducted by Moffat County High School teacher and coach Craig Mortensen found that students involved in extra-curricular activities had a cumulative grade point average of 3.067 whereas those not involved carried an average GPA of 2.277.

“I’ve always felt, and it’s been proven statistically, that anyone who’s active has discipline, uses their time more wisely and takes a more structured approach to grades,” he said.

Mortensen said he believes a recreation center would provide those benefits in a specific way.

“I think a recreation center would help all kids,” he said. “If they could just have something to do, I think they would do better.”

Mortensen said he envisions a recreation center being used for intramural programs that might involve students who are not involved in activities now.

Craig resident John Graler said a recreation center is something his entire family would use.

“I know it’s a benefit to the community,” he said. “I know my children would use it. My own and those from my church family.”

Graler moved to Craig from Ohio, where his family made use of a large YMCA. He said whole families took advantage of the facility.

“Anything that provides safe, alternative activities to what (youth) choose would be a benefit,” he said. “There’s really a need.”

A recreation center would do more than benefit the residents of Moffat County, it would benefit its economy.

“It would definitely pull people into Craig just like we pull people in with the wave pool,” Craig Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cathy Vanatta said. “For those relocating, it would definitely be a plus. Not only for businesses but for families. Businesses are looking for those things as much as for buildings and housing.”

Craig Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Pike said studies show that recreational opportunities are one of the top three things people ask about when considering moving their family or business. They ask about health care, education and what they can do with their free time.

“As an economic development tool, I would assume we use a recreation center to help lure new businesses to town,” Pike said.

A recreation center would provide five full-time positions with benefits and 16 permanent, part-time positions for a combined salary of $699,566 poured into the community in new jobs and benefits.

The recreation center, which has been proposed by a group of Craig and Moffat County residents, would be funded by a combination half cent sales tax increase and the implementation of a 2.75 percent automobile use tax. Once the debt has been paid on the facility — in an estimated 25 years — the sales tax would sunset and the use tax would be reduced to 2.25 percent.

Facility amenities will include a six-lane lap pool, a leisure pool with spray features, a lazy river and a slide, and a six-point indoor shooting range. Senior and teen activity centers also would be included as well as a 160-person community/banquet room with a catering kitchen, a therapy pool, an indoor walking track, fitness and aerobics rooms and a two-court gymnasium.

The question will go before voters Nov. 4 on the ballot as 2A.

“I think all recreational assets are a quality of life issue that I think would benefit economic development efforts,” City Manager Jim Ferree said. “They show prospective business and industry looking to relocate that we’re willing to invest in ourselves.”

Opponents to the measure say that Craig has enough recreational alternatives and that the tax increase is too much for peopl on fixed incomes.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at