Ontario officials primed to transfer pool to rec district

The city of Ontario moved transfer several assets, including the defunct pool, to a new regional recreation district if voters approve its creation. (Malheur Enterprise photo / Jayme Fraser)

ONTARIO – The Ontario City Council Monday agreed to throw its support behind a new regional recreation district, turning over key assets including the aquatics center and skate park.

Acting in a telephone meeting, the council unanimously approved a letter of intent that lays out the city’s commitment if the district is approved by voters.

The decision comes as the Malheur County Court takes the final steps to refer a measure to voters in November to form the district.

In the draft letter, the city pledges to offer the aquatics center, recreation district office, skate park, tennis courts and the proposed splash pad to the recreation district. The city plans follow the same process with the recreation district structures that it did with the Ontario Library District in 2009. 

The letter also guarantees the city will help the recreation district cover its costs with loans while the new government waits to collect property taxes. 

That would happen in July 2019.

The independent recreation district effort was spearheaded by Ontario resident Mary Jo Evers. Evers decided to get involved after she learned Ontario budget woes meant elimination of the city recreation department. The city agreed to fund the recreation department, which fields a variety of sports teams for area youth, until December.

In May, Evers asked the county court to place an initiative on the November ballot to create the independent recreation district. 

The court agreed to help Evers if she could collect a minimum of 1,250 signatures on a petition. In June Evers collected 1,280 and the court agreed to place it on the ballot.

The proposed boundaries of the recreation district would be the same as that of the Ontario School District. The proposed tax rate for the district is 55 centers per $1,000 of assessed value beginning in 2019. 

 Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.