State ownership may make rec center a harder sell

How's this for a controversial editorial topic: Carson City should spend $8 million on a recreation center that it would not own.

It sounds ludicrous on the surface, but that's the scenario that emerged Tuesday night after city leaders revealed that the only way the state would consider funding its half of the proposed $16 million project is if it owned the building. And that means the site would have to be closer to Western Nevada Community College campus facilities.

It puts the city in the difficult position of having to sell that package to its residents, but there may not be any other choice.

Few would doubt the city needs a recreation center. At the same time, Carson City is not exactly rolling in dough. To the contrary, there are real concerns about the city's long-term economic stability because of its dependence on sales tax revenue, which is in turn at the mercy of the economy.

Fiscal responsibility dictates that the city should not go it alone on the recreation center, at least one of the size it's been planning. The city may have the money allocated to build the center, but there are no guarantees it could afford the operating costs thereafter. Most recreational centers are not built on the idea of making a profit.

That leaves few options beyond the partnership with WNCC.

The arrangement should make residents nervous, but it shouldn't be a dealbreaker. Rather it requires residents to be vigilant and make sure city leaders draw up a loophole-free agreement with the state that protects forever the investment and residents' ability to use the center.


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