April 21, 2010
Erica Teichert

Casey Jones doesn’t want to see his tax dollars go toward a city-owned outdoor pool that would be open four months per year.

“If we want a pool, we’ll put one in our backyard and take care of it ourselves,” Jones said.

In a standing-room-only City Council meeting Tuesday night, 25 Eagle Mountain residents voiced opinions for and against the proposed $7 million bond initiative for an outdoor aquatic center.

Residents’ opinions have the City Council considering pushing back a proposed June ballot measure to the November general election.

If passed, the bond initiative would cost homeowners approximately $100 per year on a $200,000 home. The tax increase would pay for constructing the center, which would be finished in spring 2011. But residents interested in using the center would have to pay a separate fee.

Some residents, including Elaine Duke, say the tax increase is a smaller burden than the time and money spent commuting to other cities’ recreation centers, and they would like to see action sooner rather than later.

“If there isn’t an election in June, nothing will be possible until 2012,” Duke said.

Others said a city-owned aquatic center would crowd out the possibility for a private gym to establish itself in Eagle Mountain. Plus, the economy in the area is still stagnant.

“On every street, you’ll see large numbers of homes in foreclosure or for sale,” resident James Stock said. “This is a massive government spending project that the government has no business getting into.”

Plans for the center call for a six- to eight-lane lap pool and a leisure pool. It would be open from Memorial Day to Labor Day annually.

City officials say the outdoor center would break even or turn a small profit from the proposed usage fees. The fee amounts have not yet been determined.

The city’s parks and recreation board has proposed various recreation center options, but City Council members selected the fully outdoor center March 2. The council voted 3-2 to put the bond measure on the next election ballot.

According to Councilman John Painter, more than 600 residents responded to an online survey a few months ago. Of those, 60 percent expressed support for a recreation center in the city.

The bond issue currently is scheduled to be on the ballot for the June 22 primary election. According to the Utah Taxpayers Association, voter turnout for June elections is one-third of voter turnout in November, at best. The council is expected to vote next month on whether to move the bond vote to November.

“When the issue matters to Eagle Mountain voters, they will come out,” Councilman Eric Cieslak said.

Councilman Ryan Ireland noted that he has received several e-mails about the proposal, and only three have been in favor of the aquatic center.

“Do we want a pool outside in this area? No, thank you,” Jones said. “Taxes? No, thank you.”