Sports

Defeat of Park City recreation bond ‘disappointing,’ official says

"We have not passed a recreation bond in Park City since 2001," Ken Fisher said, "and I don't see us putting a recreation bond back on the ballot at any time in the future"

On paper, in theory, it almost looked like a slam dunk: a$30 million recreation bond on the Park City ballot Tuesday would have made a world-class resort town even classier by adding dedicated indoor pickleball facilities, more outdoor pickleball courts, more ice and other amenities, in return for a relatively small tax hike that many property owners in the affluent city, as well as businesses and second-home owners, could easily absorb, especially considering the growing popularity of pickleball.

Yet in preliminary results, the bond was soundly defeated, with 55.66% of voters opposed to it and 44.34% for it.

Pickleball enthusiasts had been increasingly vocal about needing indoor facilities beyond what the city’s Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center, or PC MARC, could offer.

So why did the bond fail?

“I’m still processing it,” Park City Recreation Director Ken Fisher said on Wednesday, “but I think there was a combination of things from people being upset about assessed values and other tax entities, so I think there was accumulated resentment, and … Park City residents wondering why they should be building facilities for people outside their vicinity.”

While only city residents voted on the bond, county and city residents share the same recreational amenities, with most county residents living outside the city limits.

The MARC, for example, a city facility, doesn’t charge a differential fee for county residents outside the city limits.

The bond’s defeat, Fisher said, is “disappointing.”

More than pickleball

The bond could have built a 14,000-square foot, two-story addition to the MARC as well as an array of new features at the Park City Sports Complex at Quinn’s Junction, including a new facility with indoor and outdoor pickleball courts, community spaces, a Nordic ski training area, a pump track for bicycles, a refrigerated covered outdoor ice sheet, lighting on existing sports fields and expansion of existing maintenance facilities.

“We really tried to package a bond that wasn’t just pickleball,” Fisher said. “I’ve worked for the city for over 30 years and it took us a long time to get a skate park built, these things don’t happen overnight. You need the critical mass of people — and I thought we had it with the ice and pickleball and Nordic skiers.”

Will the city try again?

“We have not passed a recreation bond in Park City since 2001,” Fisher said, “and I don’t see us putting a recreation bond back on the ballot at any time in the future.”

In his career, he said, “this is my biggest professional disappointment.”

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