Here’s a sampling of the comments made at the parks and recreation wrap-up meeting Tuesday night at The Centre:
• “I don’t live in Rolla,” one woman said but added that she comes regularly to Rolla to enjoy the parks, especially the ACORN Trail. “There is nothing in St. Robert to ride a bike on,” she said. Consequently, many people from her town load up their bicycles and come to Rolla. “We shop while we’re here,” she said, and added that she would not come to Rolla to shop without another reason, such as the park system. “It’s valuable to people,” she said.
• Another woman who moved to Rolla from another city said she was surprised to find that Rolla had a municipally owned recreation facility. “It’s wonderfully run, always clean and the staff is always congenial,” she said.
•There was another comment about a desire for a dog park. Parks and Recreation Director Scott Caron noted that many people have indicated they want a dog park, and it is on the long-range list of goals for the parks, but first things first: “We need to maintain what we already have,” he said. Later, he noted that dogs are welcome in all the parks “as long as they’re on a leash and stay off the ballfields.”
• A retiree from St. Louis noted that the pool is the best thing about The Centre. “It’s very important to Rolla,” the retiree said.
• A woman said she started going to The Centre because her husband needed to use the pool, apparently for rehabilitation. While waiting for her husband, she began using the fitness center. She said she would never have gone to a fitness center otherwise.
• A longtime Rolla resident said that he does not remember anyone ever saying The Centre would “absolutely recover its costs” during the recreation sales tax campaign in 1998. “Even if they said that, maybe they were wrong,” he said. “OK, get over it. It’s something the community needs.”
• A diabetic man said he needs regular exercise and the indoor track is the most important feature to him. “It is inside and it’s flat,” he said, noting that he used to walk outside, and once fell on rough ground, skinning his knee.
• A woman said a municipal recreation center has a different mission than a private fitness center. “It is unrealistic to expect The Centre to pay for itself from fees,” she said. Raising the membership fees would make it difficult for people to join, so the tax subsidy is needed. “Rolla is not a town of rich people,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - n Another man said, “People who don’t want to use it shouldn’t have to pay for it. Taxing the whole community is placing a tax burden on everyone while only those who can afford to pay the membership fees get to use it.
• Another man said that even if a family spent $20,000 a year on goods locally, the half-cent sales tax for The Centre and parks would be only $50. Poor people would probably pay less than half that, he said.
•“It truly is a community center,” said one woman.
•“To me, it’s a no-brainer,” said another of the tax.
• A woman said The Centre is not charging enough. “It was supposed to recapture 100 percent. I think you have that ability,” she said. “If we subsidize you, you have no incentive to raise rates.” She noted that The Centre is a beautiful facility, and she doesn’t want to harm its future. “It’s not about that; it’s about you paying for it yourself.” She added that she would support a tax for capital improvements in the outdoor parks, but The Centre should operate on its own.•Another woman who noted she is a member and regular user of The Centre said other ways to raise money could be explored. She suggested the city should open a vegetarian restaurant. “Why don’t you have daily lunches here?” she said.