JAMESTOWN – Local shopping is helping support the construction of the Two Rivers Activity Center, which opened in 2017.
Amy Walters, executive director of Jamestown Parks and Recreation, which owns and operates the facility, said having the 1% sales tax was essential to pay for the cost of building the TRAC.
“I strongly believe that if we didn’t have the ability to use sales tax to build TRAC, we still wouldn’t have this facility in our community,” she said.
Voters approved adding a 1% municipal sales tax to pay for TRAC’s construction costs in 2015. Bonds for the $28.6 million project, which are expected to be repaid in 20 years (in 2035), should be repaid in 2029 or 2030, Walters said. Sales tax revenue each quarter was higher than originally forecast, Walters said.
TRAC is a 136,681 square foot multi-purpose recreational facility that offers activities and programs for all ages, Walter said.
“Not only is it that type of facility, but it’s a state-of-the-art facility that we’ve really designed to be a community recreation space,” she said. “So we have worked very hard to create a sense of community among users, making it accessible to our community and surrounding areas and providing a service and opportunity that was not or is not being experienced by others. means.”
Walters said it’s important to note that there are “ripple effects” of local shopping in addition to supporting local businesses.
“TRAC is usually one of the stops when local organizations and businesses have a potential candidate they are interviewing for positions,” Walters said. “So whether it’s a doctor coming to town to work in the hospital or a medical center in town or a professor at Jamestown University, whatever it is, they land usually at the airport and they take these people out and they’re showing community amenities.
These people are shown why they should consider living in Jamestown, she said. These reasons include Jamestown University, TRAC, the school system, and the park system.
“I think we’re going through a really tough time right now in terms of staffing and recruiting individuals and retaining individuals in our workplaces in our community,” Walters said. “There is a change there. … I think people are no longer going out to find a job and then move into the community,” she said. “People are now looking for a community they want to live in, and then they’re going to find a job in that community. So for Jamestown to be competitive and continue to recruit and retain high quality workers, we need to put these community amenities in place. A facility like TRAC is one such convenience.
She said a number of things go into creating a vibrant community, adding “…TRAC is an example of what sales tax has been able to bring to the community and its impact on… recruiting, retaining workers and people who want to move and stay in Jamestown.
TRAC was originally planned as a $40 million project, but became a $28.6 million project after determining the funding structure, Walters said. But the sales tax to build the facility, which reached its goal of 4,000 members, also helped attract other donors to continue adding amenities.
“It created that strong foundation and then helped us work to mobilize additional private funding,” she said.
An example of this is the Meidinger Splash Park, which has been popular with residents and has helped maintain TRAC membership over the summer, something that typically dips when people can get out. Walters said in June 2022 that membership numbers remained above 4,000 for the first time during the summer months.
A new project that aims to begin construction in the spring of 2023 includes six pickleball courts, two sand volleyball courts and two pétanque courts. This project is made possible through grants and private funding, Walters said.
TRAC currently has about 100 full-time and part-time employees, Walter said. Of this number, 13 are full-time employees and the others are part-time. The number has increased from 135 to 150 employees each month.
“Like everyone else, we are always understaffed and that challenges us,” she said.
Walters was downstairs when TRAC was just an idea, working with other community members on recreation space needs and how they could work together. The groups mainly included Jamestown Parks and Recreation, Jamestown Public Schools, James River Family YMCA, Jamestown Tennis Association and Jamestown Gymanastics Club, which then decided to go in a different direction. As Walters now looks back on that early process and served as facilities manager at TRAC for 5½ years before becoming executive director of Jamestown Parks and Recreation, she says it’s “very surreal.”
“…we were basically working on a dream and how to achieve it and working with a group that really worked hard to answer really tough questions and put the pieces together,” she said.
She said she is honored that there are now groups from other communities who are looking for information on how TRAC came into being and the process to get there. She sees it as a full circle, sharing challenges, missteps and what worked well.
She said it’s important to adapt to change and stay relevant, especially on the pitch.
“The one thing about the recreation and fitness industry is that it’s a fast-moving industry,” she said. “I think we stayed true to the vision of that original planning group that wanted to have a multi-purpose community recreation space, and then the management team was very creative in the programming we offer and how we staff it. and how we meet the needs of the community and members.