Citizen Opinion: Let’s all help RARA

Citizen Opinion by Scot Beaton

RARA and the Rochester Hills city council made a $2.6 million dollar mistake on Monday May 7. And they did it with your money!

Since 1946, the Rochester Avon Recreation Authority (RARA) has provided recreation programs from toddlers to adults in a variety of areas, such as dance, sports classes, sport leagues, pre-school classes, special events, fitness, skiing, and so much more. RARA allows you to enjoy diverse recreational opportunities right here in our community.

RARA Headquarters

Now, RARA is looking for a new home and the Rochester Hills city council has granted them permission to purchase an industrial building in the city of Rochester, 500 E. Second Street on a 10 year plan. The property cost is $1.4 million, $500 thousand down, $900 thousand to be financed on a land contract at 5.75% or $285 thousand in interest. Right off the bat, the building needs $575 thousand in Phase I improvements just to move in and $375 thousand in Phase II future improvements. That makes the actual cost $2.63 million total or $77.5 per square foot, for a structure with an estimated market value of only $1,007,700! RARA director Ron Jewell was quoted recently specifically about facility requirements he said he was looking for outdoor field space for the new facility. However, this new property barely has enough land for parking and NO green space for outdoor fields.

Furthermore, why is RARA purchasing this property on a land contract? Don’t they know if they are late on one payment the entire investment reverts back to the original property owner including all improvements? Who can predict our economy 10 years out? And why is RARA trying to deceive us, claiming savings of $2,100 in adult basketball rental costs and $35,000 in youth adult basketball rentals? They are only building one middle school basketball court with dimensions of  74′ by 42′ wide. NBA/NCAA regulation basketball court dimensions are is 94′ by 50′ and high school basketball courts are 84′ by 50”. Why do they think adults or high school students want to play basketball on a middle school basketball court?

Residents and taxpayers of both Rochester and Rochester Hills–please! I strongly urge you to review their proposal as they are spending YOUR tax dollars and my comments are just the tip of the iceberg. As a former member of the Rochester City Council, Monday night I would have voted NO!

But I have yet to explain the travesty that occurred Monday night. Monday night I made a fantastic creative suggestion (I personally don’t ever want an ounce of credit for this idea) that fell not only on deaf ears of RARA but also our Mayor and City Council. Years back after I left council, our city purchased light industrial property on Hamlin Rd. just east of Crooks to build a new DPS facility. To make a long story short we never built our new building there but we still own the property. Why can’t this PAID FOR PROPERTY help RARA fulfill its dream? Isn’t this all about our kids and the quality of life for our area? RARA has $2.6 million and Rochester Hills has land they could lease to RARA for any price. If I were still a member of council or your mayor, my suggestion would start at $1.00 per year for this land. I don’t know about you, but I like kids. Let’s help RARA build something really cool! Not every remaining square inch of Rochester Hills has to be a strip mall or another light industrial building. We could build the building for RARA at 3% interest, and give them a better 10 year deal than a landlord in downtown Rochester. We should solicit our business community for help. Why for example can’t one of our road pavers/bridge builders help RARA build the parking lot our front? Why can’t our parks department help build the outdoors field space RARA so desperately needs? Why can’t we help RARA build a bigger building than 33,973 square feet? A new steel building is $6-7/sq ft. Components (doors, windows, insulation, gutters & downs) $2-$3/sq ft or approx. $9/sq ft, a concrete slab a national average of $6/sq ft and erecting the structure itself is a national average of $3-$4/sq ft. Round this all up to $20/sq ft or $1,000,000 for a new 50,000 SF building with no poles to hold up the roof–pure open space!

RARA has demonstrated over the years they can book it, why can’t we help RARA build it? Not just one middle school court but 5 to 6 adult basketball courts. If we truly love our kids… RARA needs to man up, slow down on this purchase and demand our Mayor and City Council revisit this $2.6 million dollar expense at their next meeting and help RARA build their dream!

About Tom and Ann Gendich

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