Don't remodel city park -- build new rec center, group urges

Apr 7, 2013 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A group of citizens has appealed to the Riverton City Council for more structured improvements to City Park, suggesting that a recreation center be built on the property instead.

The women had seen proposals for additions to the parcel, including a skate park, a water fountain and a basketball court. But they said children who use the property need to be supervised.

"We're not saying don't build a skate park," Brooke Rogge said. "But build it in a rec center (with) basketball courts, a gym, and an ice house -- everything in one building for our kids."

Rogge lives near City Park, and she said the youth who hang out in the area can be disruptive. She described late-night gatherings at the park with loud music, drinking and smoking.

"This is what's going on down there, and it is a problem," she said. "They're not monitored or supervised. They need to be in a rec center where there's an adult."

Tried before

Councilman Eric Heiser said local representatives have tried several times to raise money for a recreation center, but county residents don't seem to support the idea.

"We tried to pass a tax for this two times," he said. "Both times it went down 60-40. That's 60 percent of your community telling you they're not in favor of a rec center."

Mayor Ron Warpness pointed out that the entire county has to approve an optional sales tax, and residents outside of Riverton "don't give a rip" about building a recreation facility in the city.

He said he would like to see changes made to the process.

"Recently we've tried to get with our legislators and say, 'Look, a community like Riverton should be able to tax ourselves on things that are important to us,'" Warpness said.

"But until that happens we have to sell (the) entire county on it to make it happen. It's really difficult to get it done."

The women had mentioned private donations, and both Warpness and Heiser indicated that the council would be interested in pursuing outside funding opportunities.

"Absolutely we would love to sit down and have those discussions," Heiser said. "That's essentially what we'd need, is a donor or donors to step up."

Councilman Jonathan Faubion suggested the residents speak with their fellow citizens about the issue.

"I honestly think the only way this will get done is if our community is willing to tax itself to pay for it," he said. "The absolute best thing for (you to do is) go talk to your neighbors, friends and community."

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