Colona Residents Clash With Park Board Over Community Center Pla - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Colona Residents Clash With Park Board Over Community Center Plans

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Growth versus paying for it. Plans have been in the works in Colona for years to build a new community center. Now they're ready but some there say not if they're going to raise taxes and it could happen without voters having a say.

The $4.5 million project is basically shovel ready at Gailliaert Park where there's a baseball diamond now. The Colona Park District is behind this, not the city, and the district can raise taxes without a referendum so the plan is pay for it with a property tax hike. Right now the park district tax rate is 0.0865. Those we spoke to say that's not very much, but under the plan it would go up to .43 percent. For a $100,000 home the taxes go from $18 dollars a year to paying more than $125 just to the park district. Some say they just can't handle that jump.

"It wouldn't be bad if it was open for the kids. We do need more things for kids to do out here," said Kelley Phelps. She's a lifelong resident who says her family would definitely use a new community center. The plans call for an indoor pool, fitness area with a track, activity room, community room and kitchen.

"We're talking about something anybody from 6 to 60 years old can participate in Colona," said Tony Anderson, President of the Colona Park District board. The park district was formed 15 years ago with the purpose of bringing a community center to town. There hasn't been a facility offering something like this since the 1970's but many say now isn't a good time.

"We have people struggling now and to come in and raise peoples taxes for something a lot of people probably won't even use is a tough deal," said Alderman at Large Michael King.

Others are concerned it's not the best location. "The road here is bad to get in and out of. The road is horrible with a train coming you can't get in and out and the field back here when it rains it floods out," said Tom Jones.

Jones started a petition wanting to dissolve the Park District altogether. "People have a right to vote on this if they want to keep it or not," he said.

He, along with several others at the spoke their minds at Friday's Park District meeting. Legally, the board can raise taxes up to a certain percent without a voter referendum so it's a done deal unless the petition goes through and voters dissolve the board in November.

"It's 30 cents a day. People are paying $4 for a coffee atStarbuckss. It's 30 cents a day. It costs you 50 cents a day to sponsor a dog on the TV," added Anderson.

"If it's going to be something that's raised and the community has to pay for it the community should vote on it," said Phelps.

The Park District has applied for a $2.5 million grant from the Department of Natural Resources and if that comes through the property tax plan would be adjusted to take that into account.

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