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TRAC group wants to have design plan in next two months, eyes election

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news Jamestown, 58401

Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

The Two Rivers Activity Center Board of Directors should have design plans of the proposed community activity center ready for public review within four to six weeks.

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The proposed center would be located on property owned by Jamestown Public School District located off of 5th Street Northeast, directly north of Gussner Elementary School. Amy Walters, a community representative on the TRAC Board of Directors, said JPS officials asked the TRAC board to relocate the proposed facility from its originally proposed location near Jamestown Regional Airport to the property by Gussner.

The school property north of Gussner is 7 3/4 acres in size. There is adjacent property owned by Jamestown Regional Medical Center that TRAC could acquire if space is needed, Walters said.

“We wouldn’t necessarily need the (adjacent) land right away, it would be more of a future need,” Walters said.

TRAC would include an aquatic center with an indoor water park and outdoor water features.

“This will allow us to use the water park 12 months of the year,” Walters said. The indoor water park would also provide revenue for the facility and help drive memberships to fund TRAC’s operations.

The center would include space for the child care facility currently operated by the James River Family YMCA in the Larson Center, an indoor playground, an indoor turfed surface facility and an indoor fieldhouse that would have multiple-use courts and a running track.

“The facility will be designed as several pre-engineered buildings with one central façade on the front of each building to tie them in together,” Walters said.

The estimated cost for this facility is $30 million to $40 million, according to Walters.

Zerr Berg Architects of Fargo is working on the design for the center.

How to pay for it?

Walters said the TRAC board wanted to get the design plans for the community center done in time for the board to circulate petitions to put a request on the November general election ballot to enact a three-quarters of a cent sales tax to fund the building of the center. However, the plans won’t be completed in time to make that deadline.

Walters said petitions would need to be submitted in early August to make the November ballot. The TRAC board is now focusing on getting the design plans completed for the public to view by mid-September. She said the TRAC board did not want to try to circulate petitions for a Jamestown sales tax without completing the design plans.

“There is a sense of urgency on our part to get the design plans done,” she said.

Once the design plans are set, the TRAC board will focus on getting a special election set by the Jamestown City Council before the end of the year or early next year to ask voters to support a sales tax request.

Frank Conlon, executive director of the James River Family YMCA, said he would like to see the special election held in December if possible. The groups working since 2007 to get TRAC are the YMCA, which becomes James River Family Fitness after Sept. 1, Jamestown Public Schools, Jamestown Parks and Recreation, Jamestown Tennis and Jamestown Gymnastics.

The YMCA has been operating out of the Larson Center on the University of Jamestown campus since it was first formed. Conlon said UJ officials are supporting TRAC because they want to do some work on the Larson Center to meet an ever-growing demand for student athlete training space.

“When we (the James River Family YMCA) first started operating out of the Larson Center, the university had six sports for men and women combined,” Conlon said. “Now it offers 16 sports.”

Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department Director Doug Hogan said he, too, would like to see a special election held in December concerning funding for the proposed TRAC facility. Once the facility is built Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department would own the buildings and property and would be responsible for its maintenance. Hogan said the department would need to hire more employees to cover maintaining the facility and he would have the cost for these additional employees as part of the information the TRAC board will present to the public once the design plans are ready.

Special election

Getting a special election approved by the Jamestown City Council in time for the election to be held in December would be a “challenge,” according to City Administrator Jeff Fuchs.

First the TRAC board would have to determine when JPS will be done paying back the sales tax that funded construction of the new Jamestown High School. Voters approved a 1 percent sales tax in the early 2000s to pay for the Jamestown High School. That tax is set to expire in June 2017, but could be paid off earlier.

“They (the TRAC board) don’t know when that will be,” he said.

As to getting a special election approved by the council, the TRAC board will have to get petition language together and submit it to Fuchs and his staff for review. Fuchs said he has 15 days to review the petition language and certify it.

Then the TRAC board would have to get the right number of signatures of registered voters in the city to supporting having a special election. Once the petitions are submitted, Fuchs and his staff have 15 days to verify the signatures. He did not know how many signatures would be needed to get a special election held.

Fuchs said assuming everything went right in getting the petition language reviewed and certified and there were enough verified signatures on the petitions, the City Council would still have to meet and call for a special election. That election would have to be held within 30 days of that meeting.

“If someone wanted to get that all done by December, they are already running into a time crunch,” he said.

Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at colson@jamestownsun.com

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