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Board Chairman At North Summit Recreation District Gratified By Ballot Victory

North Summit Recreation District

After a number of attempts at the ballot box, the directors of the North Summit Recreation District have been given a funding source by their patrons.

And that result was decided by a couple dozen votes.

The Board Chairman for the District says he’s grateful, because the recreation services they provide are an important part of the community fabric in North Summit.

The Chairman of the North Summit Recreation Board, Brian Zwahlen, told KPCW the tax levy they were granted comes to about $28 a year for an average property owner.

The tally on November 5th showed the proposition winning by just 10 votes, with the County Clerk’s office reporting there were about 70 ballots from North Summit yet to be counted.

As Zwahlen noted, they had to wait two weeks for the final canvass.

“We got that preliminary results of ten votes, and it really wasn’t enough to feel real confident about it. And we’re in the process of a lot of budgetary decisions. This is the time where we have to put in our budget for 2020. So, we really couldn’t move forward until we got the final count.”

In the end, the North Summit District won with a margin of 25 votes.

The District was created about 10 years ago, but without a source of funding. Zwahlen recalled that a proposed bond for a recreation center failed overwhelmingly. Following that, a ballot proposal for operational funds was also rejected.

He said the populace in the North Summit region are an independent lot.

“It’s just a different culture over there. We’ve got hard-working, agricultural farmers and ranchers, oil and gas folks, construction. They’re fiercely independent. The idea of letting their hard-earned money out of their control is a difficult pill to swallow, and I totally respect that. And so, we knew it was an uphill climb.”

He said county funding accounted for 40-50 percent of their budget. And the county decided to phase the subsidy out, starting last year.

So, the proposal on the 2019 ballot was vital.

Zwahlen said much of what they do is provide Little League sports.

“Basketball, baseball, soccer, tackle football, flag football, softball, all of those. In addition, we do some adult or young adult activities as well, as well as ATV safety classes, some firearm safety, things like that. (Leslie) And how many kids do you have participating? (Zwahlen) There are several hundred. I believe it’s youth basketball we had 190, youth baseball and softball, 230, youth soccer, 108, flag football, 96.”

He said providing outlets for physical activity is important for the youngsters of the region.

“You can imagine, a lot of the benefits of being active. And that’s tougher and tougher, as we get into our phones and our videos and our screens. Academically, there’s almost a 30 percent increase, they say, being involved in youth sports, being active, obesity rates decrease, drop-outs decrease, drug use decreases.”

Zwahlen said it’s a good thing they succeeded at the ballot box.

“We’re faced with the option, if this didn’t pass, we would have basically have to double our fees, participation fees. And we did a little bit of that towards the end of last year, knowing that this was coming. And the results were just as we would have expected. Participation plummeted. There was no way that that was gonna be sustainable. So over 40 percent of this just goes to replace the county funding that we had before.”

They can move forward with a number of other activities.

“We’re really talking about expanding programs to some extent, to increase our coaches training, to do some fundraising, so that we can increase. Also, North Summit Rec is in the process of building a city park in Coalville. So, some fundraising and grant-writing for that. Also, scholarship money. So, even though we’re keeping the fees low, we still have a number of families, especially with multiple kids, where it’s still tough. That’s discretionary income, put towards basketball or whatever.”

Brian Zwahlen, board chairman for the North Summit Recreation District.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covers Summit County meetings and issues. KPCW snagged him from The Park Record in the '80s, and he's been on air and covering the entire county ever since. He produces the Week In Review podcast, as well a heads the Friday Film Review team.
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