If you’re a resident of Bismarck, then you’ve probably heard about the recreation complex being proposed for North Dakota’s capital city. It’s a doozy— a 25 acre, $114.5 million doozy. The Bismarck Tribune covered it yesterday.
Over the years, we’ve featured a number of absolutely ridiculous — and shameful — things here on The Minuteman. Governments provide plenty of material that enables us to do so. This one undoubtedly belongs on the list. In fact, it might just be so asinine that it’s worthy of satire on something like The Babylon Bee. It’s just that bad.
Bismarck Parks and Recreation are proposing the mega-plex. Yesterday, Green Play, LLC — a Colorado-based consulting firm — was on hand to assist in presenting the concept— to a whopping 90 people. Plans were drafted after receiving 1,717 responses to a survey conducted back in March, in which respondents were asked what facilities they wanted for an indoor recreation center. In October, Parks and Rec had a Q&A event where about 200 people turned out for the opportunity to ask questions and provide input.
I’m not going to get into the specifics of how many tennis courts, pickleball courts, and the like are being proposed in the complex. Check out the Tribune article if you’re interested in that. What I’d like to focus on stems from this:
“Construction costs would be almost $114.5 million, funded by a new sales tax and private donations.
“Projected revenue would be $2.6 million each year. Projected expenses would total $3.1 million annually. Expenses not covered by revenue would be paid through the Parks and Recreation budget.
“Staff said if the project were to be voted on by the public and approved in June 2020, the center could open in 2023.”
It’s bad enough that people think government has a role in sports and recreation. But the $114.5 million project will require more taxation?! Seriously? It’s simply outrageous. If the demand for such a thing were high enough, then the private sector would build it. But let’s be honest— it’s not.
The population of Bismarck is somewhere around 72,000 people. Yet, out of the gate, they’re projecting that attendance won’t even be high enough to cover expenses— meaning taxpayers get to pay for the shortfall too. Is this truly what some would call good governance? I think not.
This is the kind of project that gets approved when people aren’t paying attention or getting involved. The residents of Bismarck need to squash this proposal. Send it to where it belongs— the trash heap of really bad ideas.
There’s a limited role for government, and Bismarck undoubtedly has needs, but building a $114.5 million recreation complex — partly with taxpayer dollars — is not one of them.
(Note: A final presentation to the board will take place on December 19th, at 5:15pm. It will be in the Tom Baker room, 221 North 5th Street.)
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