Life Cen­ter: Too big, too ex­pen­sive

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Editor:

The Life Cen­ter would be ab­so­lutely amaz­ing and would be a great gath­er­ing place for the com­mu­nity.

How­ever, that is sim­ply not the point. The real is­sue is that this Life Cen­ter as it cur­rently pro­posed is too large and over­priced for our com­mu­nity. I have done some re­search on sim­i­lar fa­cil­i­ties in a num­ber of cities. The one that is clos­est to our Life Cen­ter de­scrip­tion is the one in South­lake, Texas. It is un­der con­struc­tion and will be com­pleted in 2016. It is 104,000 square feet and the orig­i­nal cost es­ti­mate based on the br­sarch.com was $30 mil­lion. The de­scrip­tion reads: “Pro­gram­matic com­po­nents in­clude a recre­ation cen­ter, se­nior cen­ter, aquatic cen­ter, public li­brary, public meet­ing spa­ces, com­mu­nity ser­vices depart­ment ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fice space and build­ing sup­port ar­eas.” That de­scrip­tion sounds a lot like what is be­ing pro­posed here in Span­ish Fork with the Life Cen­ter.

Please see www.br­sarch.com/projects/south­lake-com­mu­nity-recre­ation-cen­ter as the source for this de­scrip­tion and cost.

The good news is that we have the op­por­tu­nity with the South­lake, Texas, pro­ject to see the orig­i­nal es­ti­mate and now the ac­tual costs af­ter the pro­ject has be­gun. ( http://www.city­of­south­lake.com/in­dex.aspx?NID=1345) Upon closer in­spec­tion, the cost for the South­lake site is ac­tu­ally $46 mil­lion. That is much higher than the orig­i­nal es­ti­mate. Let’s take a closer look, how­ever. The first phase at $15 mil­lion was com­pletely paid for by the re­serves that the city of South­lake had been sav­ing since 2009. The sec­ond phase at $31 mil­lion will be com­pletely paid for by a re­al­lo­ca­tion of ex­ist­ing taxes that they have (no new taxes). Span­ish Fork City does not have the re­sources to do the same thing for the Life Cen­ter. In fact, Span­ish Fork needs to in­crease residential prop­erty taxes by 15 per­cent and busi­ness prop­erty taxes even higher. Us­ing the orig­i­nal es­ti­mate for South­Lake, I will il­lus­trate why the Life Cen­ter bond is a very bad idea for Span­ish Fork res­i­dents.

The com­mu­nity in South­lake, Texas, hap­pens to be in the 20 top most af­flu­ent neigh­bor­hoods in the US. In 2013, the me­dian home value in this com­mu­nity was $523,960. The av­er­age house­hold in­come was $173,079. So here we have a com­mu­nity that can easily af­ford a fa­cil­ity like this and they have a good-sized fa­cil­ity at 104,000 square feet with a cost per square foot at $288.

Now we come to the pro­posed Life Cen­ter for Span­ish Fork: 144,000 square feet, $44 mil­lion (in­cludes a $4 mil­lion down pay­ment) with a cost per square foot at a whop­ping $306. But hold on, ev­ery­one. Span­ish Fork, with its 38,000 res­i­dents, had an av­er­age home value of $193,226 in 2013 and a me­dian house­hold in­come at $63,029. What is be­ing pro­posed for Span­ish Fork is al­most 30 per­cent big­ger and 25 per­cent more ex­pen­sive than a sim­i­lar fa­cil­ity in one of the most af­flu­ent zip codes in the coun­try.

Let’s vote no to this pro­posed fa­cil­ity/ bond and then come back to­gether with all of the awe­some ideas and put to­gether a Life Cen­ter pro­posal next year that is much more af­ford­able and smaller for our re­source­ful and con­ser­va­tive com­mu­nity.

By this time next year, con­trac­tors should not be quite as ex­pen­sive since ac­cord­ing to the public hear­ing, part of the high cost is that it is dif­fi­cult to get con­trac­tors be­cause ev­ery­one is build­ing and very few large con­struc­tion firms are hir­ing be­cause they are not sure if the econ­omy will sus­tain the growth. If we wait a year and get a smaller pro­posal that will al­low more time for con­trac­tors to gear up, then the new Life Cen­ter on a smaller scale could be com­pleted by 2018 (same sched­ule as the cur­rently pro­posed Life Cen­ter) and at a much lower cost. That should also re­duce the op­er­at­ing costs as well.

Our com­mu­nity is too wise and fru­gal to pro­ceed with some­thing like the cur­rently pro­posed Life Cen­ter. Hugh Black Span­ish Fork

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