Opponents of Recreation Center Mount Ballot Campaign

Opponents of Recreation Center Mount Ballot Campaign

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Opponents of the city's proposed $19.5 million bond issue for a recreation center downtown are circulating petitions to put the issue before voters.

"If the city is going to issue nearly $20 million in bonds, voters should have the chance to decide whether to do it or not," said Mitch Moyes, a resident who is helping circulate the petition.

He said more than 1,000 signatures have been gathered, with 7,500 needed by May 16 to put the measure on the November ballot.

Mayor Matthew Godfrey said waiting for a public vote would cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments on the mall property and a loss of lease revenue and taxes from potential developers.

"I'm very confident voters would pass it (the bond issue) if it went to a vote," he said. "The longer we delay, the more money it will cost us."

The City Council, acting as the Municipal Building Authority, may vote May 17 on whether to issue $19.5 million in bonds to Health & Fitness Holding L.C., comprised of Fat Cats All Out Fun Center and Gold's Gym, for the construction of the recreation facility.

The 126,000-square-foot facility would be built at the site of the former Ogden City Mall.

The center would include an 80-foot climbing wall, wind tunnel, Flowrider pool, 34 lanes of enhanced bowling, an arcade, indoor track, fitness machines and two restaurants.

The city would own the recreation center building. About $11 million in bonds would be repaid through leases with Fat Cats and Gold's Gym. The remaining $8.5 million would be repaid through tax increment funding from 10 redevelopment projects in Ogden.

Gary Nielsen, owner of Gold's Gym in Ogden, said his company will pay the city about $30,000 a month for 20 years to lease space at the center,

Sean Collins, chief executive officer for Fat Cats, said his company plans to spend at least $1.7 million on equipment for its proposed operation downtown.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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