By Cameron Rasmusson
A study approved by the city Wednesday may shed some light on the long-sought goal of establishing a Sandpoint recreation center.
The Sandpoint City Council authorized a contract with the YMCA that will investigate the options available in a rec center project. Of the study’s $20,000 cost, the YMCA is committing $7,500, while the city will fund the remaining $12,500 through a High 5 grant from the Blue Cross Foundation. The study follows the announced sale of the University of Idaho extension property on Boyer, which is popularly considered a prime location for a recreation center. The city previously voted to pursue a grant from the LOR Foundation that could aid the property’s public purchase.
Not everyone was thrilled with the city over the project timing. Resident Anita Aurit said based on the dates of emails sent out to the YMCA Advisory Council, the city had evidently made up its mind to purchase the university property before the public input process had concluded.
“… It is clear that the decision to purchase the U of I land had already been set in motion at least a week before the Sept. 27 site tour,” she said.
Councilman-Elect Joel Aispuro agreed with Aurit, saying the city could have been more transparent in the process.
Mayor Shelby Rognstad replied that the effort to establish a rec center is an independent project that pre-dates the potential purchase of the university property by many years. The specific partnership with the YMCA launched two years ago, and once organizers identified the University of Idaho property as a prime location, a study centered around that location became realistic.
“It made sense at that time to develop a survey and really assess what the community’s response around that location would be,” Rognstad said.
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