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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Nancy Shay, Sandy's director of parks and recreation, references renovation plans as she gives members of the City Council and other officials a tour of the Alta Canyon Recreation Center.

SANDY — One historic building in Sandy could be renovated to highlight the beauty of classical, neo-Gothic architecture, while another could be expanded into an angular, modern structure with an orange and sage fiber-concrete exterior.

Plans have been drawn up to spend millions of dollars on Alta Canyon Recreation Center and the Sandy Parks and Recreation building.

The city has saved about $6.7 million, but the projects together could cost closer to $19 million. Officials are discussing taking out bonds, but even then, it is likely only one project would be completed at a time, said Sandy's chief administrative officer, Byron Jorgenson.

But others believe the city should take advantage of cheap construction prices now before the housing sector begins expanding.

The dilemma is compounded by decreasing sales-tax revenues. In April, receipts were down 8 percent compared to the year before, said Scott Bond, Sandy assistant chief administrative officer .

Some of the downturn was expected, but if revenues fall further, the city may be forced to tap into the $6.7 million saved for Alta Canyon to meet daily operating expenses, Bond said.

That money was appropriated by the city in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 budgets, but the City Council is free to reallocate the funds up until construction contracts are signed.

Renovation and additions to the Alta Canyon center will likely be completed first, as plans for that building include new offices and classroom space for the Sandy Parks and Recreation Department.

The offices and classroomsare expected to cost about $6.9 million. The department also hopes to add an indoor pool and extra gymnasium, which would bring costs to $11.3 million.

"I don't know which phase the City Council will decide," Nancy Shay, parks and recreation director, said. "I know money's tight. They may just do the offices and classrooms, and that would be excellent."

The city could also sell property it owns east of the Alta Canyon building to fund the renovations. The seven lots could be worth $1.4 million or more, Bond said.

The expanded facilities would serve all of Sandy, Shay said. The location makes sense because nearly half of all youth sports participants live in the Alta Canyon neighborhood, east of 1300 South and north of 10600 South, Shay said.

The City Council has yet to decide whether the special tax district that now funds the recreation center would remain intact if the city funds new construction. In 1984, the center was built by the district, which has been funded by extra property taxes on about 25 percent of Sandy residents in the neighborhood surrounding the structure.

That district operated the facility until a few years ago, when its board of directors signed an agreement with Sandy that allowed the city to take over operation. Property taxes from the district still fund about a third of the center's $1.2 million budget, with other taxes and admission fees making up the rest.

If the city funds additions, it would likely take over ownership of the facility, Shay said. Property owners who have paid the extra taxes over the years would continue to get a break on admission and membership, she added.

The Sandy City Council toured the recreation facility Tuesday. Shay told the small crowd that the current facility would remain, but that offices and an indoor running track would be built above and around it, turning what is now a sidewalk into a hallway.

Other changes would make space for spinning classes, which now meet in a conference room, and improve space for weights and exercise machines. Bathroom facilities serving the pools would also be upgraded to include family changing rooms.

Under the plans, the west entrance to the recreation center will be moved and a second floor made up of sage and orange-yellow trapezoid blocks would be added. Concrete slabs perpendicular to the structure, above its windows, will be held up by wooden posts in triangles. Red brick matching the current exterior would make up the new first-floor exterior.

Hills surrounding the building now would be leveled so the additions will not impair the view of neighbors to the east, Shay said.

City Council members on Tuesday expressed reservations about the architecture of the planned improvements and asked to talk to the designer about his choices.

Shay, however, is thrilled about the look.

"Our place needs to be a lot more alive and fun," she said.

The City Council has asked city staff to present funding options during its July 29 meeting at 10000 Centennial Parkway.

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