With a community center feasibility study budgeted for the coming fiscal year, two town officials recently toured community centers in the Denver area to get a better feel for how to proceed in Payson.
Vice Mayor Dick Wolfe and Payson Parks and Recreation Director Bill Schwind attended the 13th Annual Recreation Facilities Design and Management School.
In addition to learning what works, Wolfe said he found out what doesn't work.
"We have to be very careful not to build expensive facilities for things that turn out to be faddish," Wolfe said.
Both he and Schwind were impressed with a facility they visited in Parker that had been built several years ago when that community's population was about 14,000.
"It is highly used by all generations, and generates $1.3 million in annual revenue, well above operating expenses," Schwind said.
Revenue comes from annual dues, drop-in fees, charges for classes and lessons, room rentals for small conferences and meetings, and even wedding receptions.
Wolfe was interested in the political process how the facility in Parker was approved, funded and built.
"They did a feasibility study and it went to a vote and lost," he said. "In the interim, a center was built in nearby Golden. The people in Parker liked what they saw and passed it 3-1."
Schwind said the trip was not intended to influence the feasibility study but to guide it and to evaluate several possible firms that specialize in the area.
"We need to bring in a consultant who is skilled in the field, who will basically look at the town, study the community, look at the demographics, listen to the people's needs (and) find out what the community says is important to them," he said.
"The firm that is finally selected will also look at site options, do a prospectus on a building, including square footage, do a guesstimate on construction costs, and look at what it will cost to operate versus potential revenues."
"What they'll come up with is a realistic pro forma that will help the town council decide if it wants to move forward."
If it does, the consultant also can provide design and even start-up operations assistance. The town has budgeted $35,000 for the study, an amount that might be $5,000 to $10,000 under what it will actually cost.
Schwind will visit to Sedona, a community that recently went through a similar process.
The next step for Payson, Schwind said, is to issue a request for qualifications, establish a review committee, make a selection and negotiate a price. Once that's completed, the matter will go before the town council for review.