Fraser Rec District seeks to dispel rumors about land for rec center
SKY-HI DAILY NEWS
A roomful of nearly 50 district residents flooded the room at the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District workshop Tuesday evening based on rumors that Grand Park President Clark Lipscomb would “renege” on his land donation to the district if the rec center was not named Grand Park Recreation Center.
They also complained about the prospect of sharing the center with hotel guests.
Karen Frye was one of the concerned residents at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I’ve heard rumors,” she said. “I’d like to find out what’s true, and if the rumors are true I’d like to stop them.”
She said since the residents passed the bond and are being hit with high property taxes, they deserve to know if there is a change of plans.
“I frankly don’t want to share it with a hotel,” she said. “I think it’s wrong to do.”
Officials told the crowd the rumors are unfounded, but that did little to allay citizens’ concerns.
Resident Dennis Finnigan said whenever he learns a developer is driving the course of action, he is “very skeptical.”
Neil Anderson was also interested in the latest developments.
“I want to get some reassurance that this project is under control,” he said. “I was opposed to the project from the get-go. I still am.
“Putting more financial burdens on the folks in the district” is the worse thing the district could do, Anderson said.
He said he wasn’t surprised about the proposed rec center name or hotel coming that worked its way into the plans with Grand Park’s land donation to the rec center.
“In this world people know that nothing’s free,” he added.
At the meeting some residents said if they would have known what the rec center would be called before the election, they wouldn’t have voted for it. They also asked how concrete the land donation is, and if there are any more surprises in the legal contract from the developer besides the name request.
Board members said Lipscomb’s proposed contract regarding the rec center resembles a real estate contract and includes a few “sticking points.”
Lipscomb was not present at the meeting.
Many people attended the meeting because of e-mails that had been circulating.
“Now he (Lipscomb) wants it to be both a rec district property and an amenity for a new Marriott hotel going in with a breezeway access,” an e-mail stated. “We are paying for this rec center with our tax money and he is going to give it away to a hotel chain hoping that no one notices or complains about it.”
The same afternoon, Karen Waeschle, president of the non-profit Fraser Valley Recreation Foundation, forwarded another e-mail stating that the foundation and the FVMRD board need to “address the misinformation regarding the recreation center project.”
In response to the Marriott hotel being built with a breeze-way access, she responded: “As the donation for the recreation center land is now a donation to the FVMRD from Grand Park, and not the town of Fraser, they can require it to (meet) their development design guidelines so that it matches the rest of the development.
“The hotel chain has not been identified at this time and there will be some type of connection to the recreation center at the expense of Grand Park,” Waeschle’s e-mail continued. “If this facility (hotel) is built in the future, the additional users will only help to offset the expected facility shortfall. This is a win/win situation.”
Lipscomb requested the district name the rec center the Grand Park Community Recreation Center or a mutually agreed upon name because the development donated the land to the district, according to Scott Ledin, district director of parks and recreation.
Ledin has said Lipscomb has more “leveraging” now since he made a direct donation. The developer previously had a deal with the town of Fraser that the donation would count as its required five-acre donation to the town. But when the previous bond failed the deal expired. The donation is valued at $4.2 million, authorities said.
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