Vision 2020 to host recreation center forum

Published 10:20 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vision 2020 wants to have another conversation about a proposed community recreation center.

The Community Recreation Center Committee is inviting area residents to two forums at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and at noon Thursday, March 11 and 12, at the Austin Public Library to learn more about what the committee has accomplished thus far and get ideas on what the community wants moving forward.

“We feel that out of all the vision areas, we really wanted to go the extra mile with this one,” Vision 2020 Director of Vision Creation Laura Helle said.

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The group has made strides since Vision 2020 formed in 2012. Committee members have gathered research, done a feasibility study on the community’s recreation needs and narrowed a list of 24 potential recreation center sites in the area down to two possible downtown locations.

The feasibility study, performed by Anderson, Niebuhr & Associates Inc. of the Twin Cities, found 58 percent of Austin and nearby residents would either definitely, probably or maybe join a new YMCA/rec center, 90 percent of current members would continue at an upgraded facility, and 41 percent of residents who wouldn’t join the Y would at some point use a pay-per-use portion of the rec center.

The $54,000 study used in-depth phone interviews with 21 “influential community members,” a focus group of Hispanic families and parents with young children, and surveys with 100 current Austin YMCA members, 350 Austin residents and 50 Mower County residents near Austin. It was accurate within plus or minus 10 percentage points for YMCA members and plus or minus 5 percentage points for residents, and assumed a Y membership would be $45 monthly for individuals and $65 for families.

Helle said the group likely won’t discuss the recreation center’s location, as committee members have yet to work out an agreement on a site.

The forum is meant to be part of an ongoing effort to keep communication open between the committee and residents. Helle said Vision 2020 meetings are always open to the public, but the forum is a concerted effort to keep residents informed.

“We want to be as transparent as possible,” she said.