The Raymore City Council has decided to move forward with a citizen survey and market analysis that will determine the feasibility of building a recreational civic center.
Council members voted 7-1 on Feb. 24 to use park funds to pay for the $28,750 research that could determine if residents would support the idea of building a community center.
“I am very happy to see such a large majority of the council agreed to move forward with the first two steps toward developing a civic center,” Mayor Pete Kerckhoff said.
Earlier this month, Kerckhoff said residents need a permanent place to meet and gather, as they do in the summer at the farmers market.
“Raymore doesn’t have a Main Street,” Kerckhoff said. “Something like a civic center could become the de facto Main Street of Raymore.”
If the project is to be built without raising taxes, Kerckhoff said, the cost would be capped at $10 million or so.
“There is a general consensus that there is a reluctance on the council to do any raising of taxes,” he said.
In lengthy discussions over the last few months, councilmen have argued that residents already have access to other recreational facilities in and around Raymore.
However, citing a survey from eight years ago, the mayor said residents responded by saying that the lack of an indoor community center is the second-biggest concern behind street issues in Raymore.
As the council has worked to find a solution, the city’s Park Board suggested that an outdoor recreational facility should be an element of the project. For two years, the council has debated the feasibility of building such a complex.
The mayor said the current focus is toward an indoor community civic center, but he is interested to know what the citizens would support.
“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.”
The issue has come up again several times in recent weeks.
On Jan. 13, the council rejected a proposal to spend $78,500 for a feasibility study. But at a special meeting Jan. 21 called by Kerckhoff, council members put the question back on the agenda after removing the outdoor athletic complex from the scope of the project.
By removing the outdoor facility and doing only the survey and market analysis, the city can reduce the study costs to less than half of the original proposal.
On Feb. 10, the council endorsed that idea on a first reading.
Ward 4 councilwoman Charlene Hubach voted in opposition of Monday’s decision.
“I just have a concern because I still feel that this should come from the general fund rather than the park fund for the financing of it. That’s why I’ll be voting no,” Hubach said.
The city is looking to see the completed citizen survey and market analysis by the end of May.
“These are very important first steps that will lead to a civic center that could easily become Raymore’s ‘Main Street,’” Kerckhoff said.