PROVO — City officials are gearing up for another study to gauge whether residents want to replace their dated recreational center with newer accommodations.

Recently, Provo sent out about 2,000 surveys asking locals if they want a new recreation center, how much they'd be willing to bond for one and how often they would visit the facility if the city built one, said Scott Henderson, assistant director of parks and recreation. The city will also host an open house 7 p.m. Thursday at the Eldred Senior Center at 270 W. 500 North to solicit input from people on what they want in a new recreation center.

"This really is a chance to hear from the people we work for," Henderson said.

No location has been pinpointed as the site of the recreation center, Henderson emphasized, and it's still too early to estimate how much a new, improved facility would cost the city.

Provo has contracted Salt Lake City-based VCBO Architecture, but the city hired them to help conduct the first phase of a feasibility plan, which includes hosting public meetings, programming and completing preliminary design plans.

The city does have a recreation center, located next to Provo High School, but it was built in 1977 and is inadequate for the community's current needs, Henderson said. It'd be nice to have a new recreation center, but city officials want to listen to community input, he added.

The recreation center discussion has been long and ongoing. In 2000, Provo commissioned a Denver-based architecture company for $50,000 to explore recreation center options in the city. They settled on a location in North Park — where the city operates Veterans Memorial swimming pool — for a recreation center that could have cost as much as $12 million.

At the time, the architect completed a survey and 84 percent of respondents said they would visit a new recreation center a few times per month, Henderson said.

"I think that shows they're really looking for a facility like this in their community," he said.

On this go around, the city plans to spend about $56,000 in the first phase of the feasibility study and another $10,000 in the second phase, which includes selecting the location for a potential recreational center.

City Councilwoman Cynthia Dayton said she's glad residents will be able to weigh in on the recreation center discussion. She thinks it's too important a subject to leave them out, considering the current status of the national economy.

"It's a discussion the people of Provo should be allowed to have because it has financial implications for them," she said. "We're in tight times."

Dayton also said she's heard many constituents ask her why they don't have a new recreation center yet. She said she'll vote whichever way they want her to if the issue comes before the council.

"I am behind the public," she said.

Open House

What: Provo recreation center open house

Where: Eldred Senior Center, 270 W. 500 North

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.


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