FYI-More on ARC-Amarillo Recreational Complex

I will not use any “bad words” in this post. In my last post I mentioned that I had asked how many acres the proposed $31.5 million ARC sports complex will occupy. Well I received a call back from Double U Marketing, phone number 353-2911, and they said this. The “first phase” of this project will occupy 150 acres of land on part of the 450 acres already owned by the City of Amarillo. The person said that that future projects will occupy the remaining 300 acres of land. Okay I did my math to get a better idea of the size of all the (first phase) facilities that will be spread out over those 150 acres. One square mile is the same as 640 acres of land. So the City of Amarillo owns roughly .7 something square miles of land on the property where the Rick Klein Sports Complex is located at 3901 S. Grand.. This project will add more facilities on the same land. You can see for yourself what the project is supposed to look like from the renderings by doing a web search for “Amarillo Recreational Complex renderings.”

The justification for this project apparently has something to do with trying to accommodate kids, parents, grandparents, visitors, and competitive sports teams for whom there is no adequate facilty in Amarillo right now to handle the demand for soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball and volley ball courts, swimming pools, and hike and bike trails. I assume someone has made a pretty good case to the “folks downtown” because the bond issue for the project is on the ballot for the Tuesday, November 5th special election. The bond issue will be part of a long ballot that includes 9 state constitutional amendments and 21 city charter amendments. These will be discussed in a separate post. However, neither the state or city charter amendments have the “revenue impact” as the bond issue.

If the $31 million bond issue is approved for the ARC, property takes will increase by 2.5 percent, meaning a home worth $100,000 will see a tax increase of $25. This increase will exempt seniors, and possibly the home of a deceased or disabled veteran depending on how folks vote on Amendment 1 and Amendment 4 in the November 5th 2013 election.

But there are more questions about the ARC that may have already been “hashed out.” Some of the best soccer I’ve seen has been at the Martin Road Park just off 15th Street. These guys play some serious soccer. I wonder if these players and their families will drive all the way across town (18 miles round trip) to 39th and South Grand to play a “pick-up” game of soccer instead of going to Martin Road Park where they can play soccer, let the kids play on the playground equipment, and use the picnic facilities all in one place. The point of the question is this: What other current community or private sports and recreational facilities will be harmed by this proposed facility that will house everything in one place? “Something for Everbody,” well I want to know precisely who? Is the community expected to use the new facility or just a few organized sports type folks? The other question is the traffic impact near 39th and South Grand where the traffic already moves at a high rate of speed with little room for an additional 15,000 people trying to access a much larger Rick Klein sports facility. The other question is this: Why would a biker who lives let’s say near 45th and Soncy, load up a bike on a bike rack and drive all the way across town, some 22 miles round trip, just to use a confined bike trail? Doesn’t this defeat the whole purpose of biking? For that matter why would I get in my car and drive 15 miles round trip on roads that are already overcrowded just to walk around a hiking trail? Why would anyone drive 15 miles to play a friendly game of basketball or softball?

Then there is the other issue of the $130 million downtown redeveloment project that is suppose to “put heads in the beds” of local hotels and such. What exactly is happening with this project after the City paid the developer $1 million up-front money? The ARC is touting that its facility will also put “heads in the beds” and help with local revenue. Who crunched the numbers on all this wishful thinking? I also wonder how the ARC facilities will be staffed and run. Will they have lifeguards at all the pools? Will the employees be city workers or will the facility be contracted out to a private outfit? How many permanent and part times jobs will be created? Will the facility be open year-round? Will there be admission fees, if so how much per family, per individual? I also wonder about the true cost of the $31 million bond issue? I also wonder about the “private group” pushing this project and how much skin they have in the game. I especially wonder about all the private contractor “welfare queens” who consistently hang around the City and fatten their wallets with outrageous “overhead and profit” while paying less than fair wages to folks who do the hard labor. Whose wallet will really be fattened by building this massive project? If what the ARC marketing folks said is true, what is the next “sleeper” project to be sprung on Amarillo voters to fill up the remaining 300 acres with assorted sports facilities? What is it that Amarillo voters really don’t know about building the ARC—things that will come back to bite them down the road?

I’m all for growth, but growth has to reflect a larger community need. The revenue impact will hit all homeowners, save for a few—how will this facility help us all? Starting in about 2 weeks hundreds of Amarillo families will be affected by federally mandated, mostly Republican, balance the budget, cuts to their food assistance help. How will this additional local hunger be addressed? Amarillo has pockets of blight all across this city. Code enforcement is already lax with enforcing the laws on weeds and junk. This City is an ugly mess with trash, weeds and dead trees all over the place. Why not address other “quality of life” issues affecting all Amarillo residents instead of so much “private interest” help for a few “in the know” folks? I’m voting “No” on ARC.

Copyright 2013 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

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