The District has now completed a master plan for Casey Jones Park and a design for a community recreation center to be located at the intersection of Highway 86 and County Road 17. The initial visioning and planning effort was led by a committee of residents and stakeholders who began meeting in June 2020 to assess and discuss community needs, resident desires, program priorities, and facility designs. Another committee of residents joined together in 2021 to work with the architect on the recreation center design.
The Casey Jones Master Plan report proposes not only a community recreation center for the park, but also includes permanent grandstands and a refurbished rodeo / event arena, a new artificial turf ballfield, a new dog park, a fieldhouse / ag-building, and a site for the envisioned Homestead Education Center being proposed by the Elbert County Agricultural Alliance. Now that the master plan report is complete, the District will host a number of open houses and is inviting residents to come review the plans and provide comment. The Board intends to ask voters within the District to fund the construction of the recreation center through a ballot initiative in May of 2022, know as Ballot Issue 6.
Check back here occasionally for news and updates and to stay in the loop on the Casey Jones Master Plan and Recreation Center Project!
QUESTIONS? - email Mike Barney at firstname.lastname@example.org
After listening to concerns expressed from residents, the Park Board decided at its meeting on April 19 to no longer pursue the proposed campground expansion within the Casey Jones Park Master Plan. The Board became aware of the concerns during the open house events to share the master plan with the community and after much deliberation, felt that the concerns raised outweighed the perceived benefits the campground expansion would produce. The Board expressed a desire to switch the focus to improving the existing campground and is hopeful that grant funds awarded for the original project can be redirected.
QUESTIONS? - email Mike Barney at email@example.com
· Who is deciding what to include in the recreation center design?
The District solicited the public in early 2021 to be a part of a recreation center design committee and lead the effort. This citizen-based committee has been responsible for identifying and prioritizing the desired spaces and amenities and making recommendations to the District Board of Directors, who make the final decisions. The recreation center design committee has also surveyed the public and received over 950 responses which have helped inform and guide their recommendations.
· What amenities are going to be included in the recreation center?
The recreation center design committee has prioritized the pool area as the main focus of the design. The pool area will include a zero-depth entry leisure pool with play features, a social / rec pool, a lazy river, two to three 75’ lap lanes, a water slide, and an adult hot tub. The committee has also prioritized a gymnasium, program space / meeting rooms(s), fitness space, indoor track, and a childcare room. The initial design will also include needed support spaces including locker / restrooms, lobby, mechanical spaces, storage, staff offices, and potentially unfinished space for future improvement. While the list of desired amenities was quite a bit longer, and included a senior lounge, a teen activity room, and more program space, the project budget forced the committee to limit what can be included in the design.
· Where can I see the Casey Jones Master Plan and designs for the recreation center being proposed?
The District contracted with a design / architecture firm that recently completed the Casey Jones Master Plan. The plan is available on the District’s website at www.elizabethpr.com
· Where will the recreation center be located?
In March of 2020, the District purchased 91-acres surrounding the existing Casey Jones Park, securing land for the pursuit and development of major park and recreation improvements for the community. The site proposed for the recreation center is located at the corner of Highway 86 and County Road 17. Access is being proposed from County Road 17.
· How much will the recreation center cost to build?
The proposed recreation center is projected to require $23-26M for construction costs.
· How will the District pay for the proposed recreation center?
The District Board of Directors is asking residents to fund the construction through a ballot initiative in May of 2022. Residents will be asked to increase the mill levy rate assessed by the District to allow the District to fund the construction.
· What is the District mill levy rate currently, and what kind of increase can I expect the Board to ask me to pay to fund these proposed improvements to the park system?
The current mill levy that the District assesses annually on non-exempt properties is 2.466. The Board is proposing it be increased to 4.932.
· How will that affect my annual property taxes?
Though you should consult your accountant to fully understand how an increase in the District’s mill levy rate will personally impact you, see example below for a property and home with an actual value of $550,000 in 2022.
Actual 2022 Property Value $550,000
Assessed 2022 Value $39,325 (7.15%)
2022 Total Mill Levy $97
Proposed Increase $97
Proposed Total New Mill Levy in 2023 $194
· If residents vote to approve the mill levy increase in May of 2022, when will the recreation center be built?
Provided that the ballot measure passes in May of 2022, the District will then put the construction out for public bid and solicit proposals. Tax revenues from the passed ballot measure will begin being collected in January 2023, allowing construction to begin at that time. Construction is projected to require 12-18 months, meaning the facility could open in early to mid-2024.
· How do I know if I am a District resident?
To learn if you are a District resident, check your current tax statement and see if “Elizabeth Park and Rec Gene” is included in your list of taxing entities. If you need any assistance determining residency, call the park office at 303.646.3599. Please note that some properties within the geographical boundaries of the District are exempt from inclusion, and therefore are not considered residents. These include properties 40-acres or larger and zoned as Agricultural.
- What is happening to the trees in that area where the rec center will be built?
We have planned for the large trees in that area to be preserved to the extent possible and designed the rec center around them, though some trees will certainly be cut down and we will not be able to save them all. We are doing our best to sell and relocate as many as we can, and will move many more to other areas within the park as we are able, but we will not be able to save them all unfortunately.
· Why does the mill levy not have a sunset date?
The mill levy increase is being proposed to be permanent. The Board reviewed the mill levies of other park and recreation districts throughout the state and the services they provide to their communities and believed that the funds will be needed beyond the payment of recreation center construction to continue to develop the park system and keep up with growth.
· Where will the water come from for this facility?
Casey Jones Park does currently include water rights on over 103-acres, though the intent is to work with the Town of Elizabeth to connect the park to the Town’s water and sewer systems. The County's and Town's water plans / studies and the forecasts they have had developed show that there is sufficient water to support this project.
· Why does the ballot question use the term “may include” rather than say “will include”?
The ballot question was crafted that way intentionally. The reason was to allow some flexibility for the project in what is currently a very volatile economy. This volatility could potentially impact not only the cost of financing and construction, but also the availability of material supply chains, the availability of contractors, and other factors. If costs come in beyond what the mill levy can generate, or other unanticipated factors do arise, this will require the plans to potentially be adjusted, and the language allows that to happen. The Board’s full intent is to fund the construction of the recreation center as the current schematic design shows it, and the pool area remains the most prioritized feature for the facility.
· What are the dimensions of the pool in the proposed recreation center?
As described within the master plan report, which is accessible on the District’s website, the aquatics area of the facility (pools and deck space) will include 7,610 square feet. While the specific dimensions of the various elements within the aquatics area are difficult to define due to their irregular shapes, the square feet included within each element is as follows: Zero-Depth Leisure Pool – 700 sq ft, Warm Water Program Pool – 590 sq ft, Current Channel (lazy river)– 870 sq ft, Lap / Program Pool – 1200 sq ft, whirlpool – 250 sq ft.
· Why are there inconsistencies between some of the costs provided during the open houses and what is listed in the Casey Jones Master Plan?
Until the actual construction drawings are created for the rec center and a builder is under contract, all of these numbers are just projections. Some of the projections, particularly the ones we received from our design team contained within the master plan are based on highest potential costs and time frames. In discussions with contractors and builders, we have adjusted some of the projected costs and time frames based on their input. We will know the actual cost and timeframe once the construction drawings are complete and we bring on a builder and execute a contract with them.
· Why is the District asking for a mill levy increase rather than a construction bond for the recreation center?
If the District were to ask residents to approve a construction bond, we were advised that we would also need to ask voters to approve a second ballot question to approve the recreation center itself. The Board was concerned that one ballot measure could pass while one fails, and this would leave the project unable to move forward. This had recently occurred with a similar project in another community. In asking voters to approve a single ballot measure, the Board believed the request could be less confusing and have a greater likelihood of being successful.
· What are the impacts going to be on traffic in the area?
The District is currently having a traffic study for the Casey Jones Master Plan completed. This study will measure current traffic levels, project future volume into and out of the site, and assess the impact on surrounding roadways and intersections. The study will also include engineering of the preferred and most efficient traffic flow as well as any improvements that are needed to adjacent roads, park entrances / exits, or nearby intersections. While the exact cost of any needed road improvements to Highway 86 and / or County Road 17 are yet to be determined, the Casey Jones Master Plan and the proposed recreation center budgets do include costs for roadway improvements both within and adjacent to the park.