After a couple years of spirited controversy, Raymore City Council members elected to give first-reading approval to a council bill to conduct a citizen survey and market analysis study to determine the feasibility of building a recreational civic center.
The question of deciding whether the city should build such facility has been anything but short-winded.
Mayor Pete Kerckhoff supports the project, stating residents need a permanent place to meet and gather, like they do in the summer at the farmer’s market.
“Raymore doesn’t have a Main Street,” Kerckhoff said. “Something like a civic center could become the de facto Main Street of Raymore.”
Some councilmen have argued that residents already have access to other recreational facilities in and around the community.
But eight years ago, the city conducted a survey that showed the lack of an indoor community center was the second biggest concern among its residents behind street issues.
In time, the city’s Park Board also said there is to be an outdoor recreational facility included in the project, and for the last two years, the council has debated the feasibility of building such a complex.
Kerckhoff says the council agrees the facility would need to be built without raising taxes, which would cap the project at about $10 million.
“There is a general consensus that there is a reluctance on the council to do any raising of taxes,” he said.
With that said, the mayor says the project, if citizens support it, would like more of a civic center where community members could gather.
“The focus right now is more toward an indoor facility of some sort. We won’t know until that survey is done,” Kerckhoff said. “There is always a chance the citizens of Raymore will come back and say they want an outdoor center.”
On Jan. 13, the city council turned down the decision of spending $78,500 for a feasibility study by a vote of 5-3.
But at a special meeting Jan. 21 called by Kerckhoff, council members motioned to put the question back on the agenda after deciding to remove the outdoor athletic complex from the scope of the project.
Removing the outdoor facility from the plan, and only conducting the survey and market analysis would bring the cost of the study down to $28,750.
“The council, at our last work session, took a look to see how we got to where we were, and then backed up and said, ‘How do we move forward from here,’” Kerckhoff said.
The first reading was approved during a council meeting by a vote of 6-2 on Feb. 10. Council members will look to give the study its final OK at their next meeting, Feb. 24.
“I’m hopeful everybody will not change their vote,” Kerckhoff said.
If approved, the citizen survey and market analysis could be completed by the end of May.
The purpose of the study would have determined the level of public support for a recreational facility, along with a market study.
If the council decides to move forward with the project, the city would work with the researchers to confirm the components and size of a facility to build, determine options for a site, identify possible phasing options, establish estimated construction and project costs, determine estimated operating costs and revenues and develop funding options for capital and operating costs for an additional $41,250 pending the council’s approval.
Once the studies are completed, the council will then be asked to decide whether to proceed with the project.
“I’m interested to see what the results of this survey are going to be,” Kerckhoff said. “I have a feeling that something much more modest, like a civic center, would be something the citizens would support.”