By: Curtis Englehart | Executive Director, Grand Junction Economic Partnership

On April 4th, Grand Junction voters will decide if a Community Recreation Center (CRC) will come to fruition in Grand Junction.  GJEP’s monthly articles aren’t usually focused on ballot measures or endorsements; however, I want to take this opportunity to explain why our organization believes a Community Recreation Center is a good idea for Grand Junction.

Growing up in Delta, CO, I saw firsthand how a community recreation center positively impacted a city.  And looking back, I didn’t realize how blessed I was to have a recreation center in my backyard. The Bill Heddles Recreation Center was built in 1993 and has continued to serve as the anchor establishment for Delta County.  I frequented the Bill Heddles Recreation Center often, whether it was for club sports, school activities, working out, swim classes, or getting in a few games of racquetball with friends.  The Bill Heddles Recreation Center helped keep me active, taught me about work ethic, and gave my friends and me a safe place to spend much of our time.

As I look at the proposed CRC, I envision it providing all ages access to a first-class facility that promotes health and wellness. The proposed 83,000-square-foot CRC will provide indoor aquatics, recreation, and community facilities that are missing or are in short supply in our community.  In addition, the CRC will create a safe place for our youth and provides senior resources, including a therapy pool and a senior lounge. The proposed facility will be built at Matchett Park, which is the perfect spot for a CRC. The park boasts 205 acres of centrally located, undeveloped land, creating opportunities for future growth.  It sits right off Patterson Road, creating easy access for all of Grand Junction. In the spirit of providing access to health and wellness to our community, I also love how the Grand Valley Parks & Recreation Foundation is committed to providing scholarships to those who would otherwise not be able to afford a membership.  The recreation center has been a cause our community has rallied behind and strongly supported.

The total projected cost for the CRC is $70m and will require roughly $5.8m in annual revenue.  The funding will come from two sources: an already approved cannabis tax revenue and a 0.14% sales tax that will sunset when 30-year construction bonds are paid off. Because of the cannabis tax revenue, Grand Junction can build a CRC with a 0.14% sales tax; just a fraction of the increase that neighboring Western Slope communities used to fund their recreation centers. That’s only $0.14 on a $100 purchase inside city limits, and Grand Junction does not tax gas, groceries, or medicine. Additionally, shoppers from outside the city pay approximately 70% of sales tax collections so city residents will pay only 30 cents of every dollar of construction costs.   

At GJEP, we believe a CRC makes economic sense for our community, and that is why our Board of Directors voted to endorse the CRC ballot measure during our February board meeting.  GJEP usually takes a neutral position regarding most ballot measures. However, when the Board of Directors were given information on the proposed CRC, they felt that it was imperative to endorse this ballot measure. When GJEP meets with businesses looking to relocate or expand into the region, recreation and quality of life have been some of our top selling points. Considering the proposed CRC through the lens of economic development and community engagement helps us become stronger together and attract new investments and regional talent.

As GJEP’s Board of Directors reviewed information regarding the proposed recreation center, three focus areas stood out to me:

  • First, recreation centers positively impact all ages in our community, especially our youth. Community recreation centers are critical for communities lacking the necessary facilities to keep their children in safe environments. After-school programs provide a refuge for at-risk youth, helping reduce crime rates, court costs, and other expenses to the community.
  • Second, recreation centers provide an opportunity for education. Educational opportunities are not limited to children. Adult learners can also benefit from a strong recreation center that provides programs for learning or enhancing a skill and provides critical services. 
  • Lastly, recreation centers promote an active and healthy community. A recreation center helps to develop a culture of physical well-being, mental health, and nutritional education. With intelligent programming and effective community outreach, a CRC can be a central component to spur change at the community level.

When the results are tallied on April 4th, we are hopeful that Grand Junction will have voted yes on investing in the future well-being of Grand Junction.  We are a vibrant community that has prioritized recreation on several fronts. A community recreation center fits within Grand Junction’s priorities and values.  It is a natural next step for Grand Junction. For more information on the proposed Community Recreation Center, please visit