Fraser rec district exploring options to possibly take over The Foundry theater and bowling alley
After months of discussion between the owners of the Foundry and the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District, the rec district is moving forward with its possible interest in taking over the bowling alley and movie theater business.
At the Fraser Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 10, Scott Ledin, director for parks, recreation and golf for the rec district, told the board that they will be asking the county for approval to lease The Foundry.
Discussions between the Foundry and the rec district began in June when Foundry owners Scott Mahronic and Mark Unicume reached out to the rec district to take over.
Ledin said the rec district was initially interested because the Foundry fits in with their mission to provide innovative experiences to county residents.
“I think our board certainly wants to see this amenity continue to operate and they have some trust in us and staff,” Ledin said. “We don’t want to shy away from trying to make this a better place to live. (…) Most of the feedback we’ve had at our public meetings has been very positive from the community.”
Once the rec district was assured by the Foundry owners that there was no private interest, they decided to look into the feasibility of the operation.
When the rec district looked further into a potential purchase or lease agreement, they came to the conclusion that the Foundry would also be a financial opportunity.
“Our intent, like we do with our other facilities, is absolutely to operate them like any business would,” Ledin said. “As I mentioned if this was a potential subsidy I don’t think we’d be having this conversation.”
Typically, state regulations restrict the ability of a recreation district to operate a bowling alley because of potential competition with private entities. However, exceptions are allowed with the permission of the county and if the acquisition meets a few stipulations, including if it is the only service of its kind.
Another stipulation is that the acquisition would be in the best interest of the community. A few Fraser board members raised concerns that this may not be the case.
Mayor pro-tem Eileen Waldow said she is concerned about how the inclusion of the Foundry in the rec district would impact the property taxes collected by the town.
“I hope we continue to have a bowling alley and a movie theater but I am concerned about the loss of property tax,” Waldow said.
Other board members questioned how the rec district would handle the kinds of movies shown at the theater if taxpayers raised concerns regarding the genre or rating of certain films.
Ledin said he understands there would be are still considerations to be made, but felt it the discussions would be pointless if the county didn’t approve moving forward.
“If they were to deny it then it’s a non-discussion,” he said.
The Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District board will be presenting the opportunity to the county on Oct. 23.
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