In the community

Recreation district campaign ready to roll

Youth soccer will be just one of a number of different sporting events that will fall under the umbrella of a recreation district if voters approve the proposal in November. The group behind the effort to create the district will kick off an informational campaign in the coming weeks. (The Enterprise/File).

ONTARIO – The group behind an effort to create an independent recreation district will kick off an ambitious public information campaign this fall.

“We want to get ourselves out there so if people have questions we can address them,” said Mary Jo Evers, an Ontario resident spearheading the effort.

Evers said Friday a political action committee for the recreation district called Our Community Matters is now active. Evers and Ontario resident Megan Cook are the directors.

“I think we just got to get our ducks in a row and make sure we communicate our message in a thoughtful way,” said Evers.

Evers said Our Community Matters will employ eight steps to educate Ontario residents about the recreation district.

The group plans to place informational door hangars around town, create brochures, and hand out T-shirts promoting the plan. 

The PAC also plans to create yard signs, a web site, Facebook page and to hold public meetings. Evers said the group wants to raise about $3,000.

“I will probably approach the Kiwanis and the chamber about doing a presentation at their luncheons,” said Evers. 

Evers said the outreach plan is still being developed. The group is exploring the cost of a web site and T-shirts.

“The T-shirts will be made as a way to get people to start thinking about it (the rec district),” said Evers.

The brochures, said Evers, will be two-sided and “explain how things are now and what we could have with this district.”

Evers said so far seven people have filed for five slots on the recreation district board. They are Evers, Cook, Robert Boyd, Toni Davila, Matt Mejia, Harvey Hatfield, Jr. and Melissa Wieland. 

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 youth sports teams, through December. The boundaries of the recreation district would be the same as the Ontario School District. The proposed tax rate for the district would 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed value beginning in 2019. In July, the Ontario City Council agreed to support the recreation district plan by turning over key assets, including the aquatics center and skate park. 

Evers previously said the district budget would be nearly $680,000 the first year. The cost, she said, to run the district for a year stands at $123,720. The other money would be used to repair and open the aquatics center, said Evers. Evers said once the pool is open, the cost for taxpayers may drop.

Evers said she is looking forward to the group’s information effort.

“No one wants to pay more taxes but, at the end of the day, it is a service many people want,” said Evers.

Cook said the fact the district will be independent is crucial.

“What I think is interesting about the district is it is something that is for the community but not controlled by the city. I find that really exciting – an amenity that can be put into place and the city can’t hold it over our heads,” said Cook.

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