This past Monday, I attended a meeting where Mark Hewett, the head of the Parks and Rec Board here in Sedalia, detailed the Board’s dream for building a Community Center. I have often wondered why Sedalia doesn’t have a Community Center; Warrensburg has a very nice one, and Warrensburg is much smaller than Sedalia.
Mark showed us an architect’s rendering of the proposed building, showing the areas set aside for an indoor walking track, basic weight lifting and fitness machines, such as treadmills and elliptical trainers, a large kitchen and eating area, meeting rooms, basketball courts, rooms where artsy-crafty people will attend classes and make beautiful things, and rooms where I will attend yoga classes and kids – and adults – will attend dance classes of varying types. There’s even an indoor playground for little tykes. This building will offer a lot to our community.
The plans propose that the Center be built on the readily accessible Jennie Jaynes stadium location, placing it near Liberty Park, Convention Hall, the pool, the baseball field, and the tennis courts. All these recreational areas will continue to be used even after the Community Center is built. It will be quite a complex. I was thrilled to see lots of parking space, because right now, when I’m running almost late to yoga, I have to park on the other side of the building and drag my mat much farther.
The reason the Community Center is still on paper instead of being constructed is that we, the people, haven’t voted on it, and so far, it is not proposed to be on the ballot. The vote will be whether to add a 1/8-cent sales tax to fund the Center. The tax is not a City property tax; instead, everyone will share the cost. Everyone who buys anything in Sedalia will contribute to the Center’s being built and maintained.
That means that we will pay, but so will people from out of town who attend the State Fair or other events at the Fairgrounds, or people who ride on the Katy Trail and spend the night and buy breakfast and dinner. People who attend classes at SFCC and buy books and supplies, and people who are just passing through on the way to the Lake or somewhere else and stop to buy weekend supplies or a Dairy Queen will contribute to the cost of the Community Center. The tax will be spread around.
Of course, not everyone is in favor of building a Community Center. Mark told our group that some people believe the cost is too much, and some people believe that we have enough fitness centers already in town. Some people think it is too big, and some people think it is not big enough. Some people think the center should include an indoor pool; some people don’t want an indoor pool.
Mark explained that the weight lifting area is not nearly as extensive as that offered by the area’s fitness centers. Because Convention Hall is currently crowded and often runs out of room for activities, the Board believes that we need a large Community Center. And as for the pool, well, that is still on the drawing board. The Parks and Rec Board hopes that an indoor pool will be part of the Center’s future, and the rendering shows a construction “Phase II” that includes a pool.
But the only way to find out what the community really thinks is for us to vote on it. Remember how many times we voted on constructing a new high school? Every time the people voted against building a new school, the School Board revamped the plans according to what they believed the people had asked for. Eventually, we voted to build a new high school, and it is beautiful!
I think it’s time to vote on the Community Center. The Board is holding two public meetings so that we can all get involved — one Monday, Oct. 24, and then Wednesday, Nov. 9. I think I will go. Hope to see you there.
Deborah Mitchell is a a local attorney and a Municipal Court Judge.