GREG LOWER

City of Chanute and Chanute Recreation Commission officials plan to keep the current rec center building agreement for another year.

Commissioners and CRC board members met in a work session Wednesday evening to discuss the agreement on the recreation center. The CRC staff had been developing a new agreement, or trying to create separate new agreements for the center and the Santa Fe ballfield renovation, before the CRC board determined it lacked the finances to participate in the park project.

Commissioner Phil Chaney said it may be time to consider where the city and rec commission had been before conflict developed between them and the CRC ran out of money.

“Have we never considered, let’s work together again?” he said. “We took our toys and went home.”

The city and CRC have seen several changes in recent years. Lakeview Recreation Area, ballpark and rec center department head Bill Myers recapped some of the improvements CRC has made in the center, which was once part of the old Chanute High School.

The CRC has installed ceiling fans in the lobby and replaced lighting with LED fixtures to cut energy costs. The CRC also replaced water heaters, and Myers said some carpet needs to be replaced.

The building now is split between the city operation of the Maring Aquatic Center on the west side and CRC activities in the gym and east side. Currently, Parks Director Todd Newman is in a six-month agreement to act as CRC director, and he said he feels comfortable in the position.

City Manager Jeff Cantrell said recreation is a large operation to take on.

“Neither agency wants to get hijacked,” he said, adding that the CRC duties have not taken Newman away from his other city responsibilities.

CRC board member Nancy Isaac said there is a public perception that recreation and parks are still together.

Under the current agreement, the CRC pays a fixed rate of $3,500 per month for both utilities and rent on the rec center. Excess from utilities goes into a maintenance fund, which CRC Chair Jon Burchett said now has a balance of $103,000.

But Commissioner Tim Fairchild said actual utilities run about $60,000 a year and that was based on 2009 figures before the aquatic center was built. Past CRC officials have said it is difficult to separate the different agencies’ electrical use.

Chaney said a sticking point for the agreement may be how much should go to the building fund and how much to go for utilities.

Fairchild also said the agreement was supposed to be reviewed each year, but that hasn’t happened since 2015.

The current agreement will expire in May 2020, and officials plan to return in February to consider revisions before that time.

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