- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Taxpayers in a southwest Idaho city want their recreation district dissolved, saying the $4.8 million they’ve put into it hasn’t yielded enough visible progress.

The Idaho Statesman reports (https://bit.ly/1Fymvyq) the Western Elmore County Recreation taxing district formed in 2001 and promised to bring the city of Mountain Home a recreation facility. It has yet to materialize.

Mountain Home resident Wendy Mastroeni is leading the petition drive, and has to collect 1,457 signatures from registered voters to get the issue on a ballot. So far she has about 100, Mastroeni said.

“We plan to go door-to-door and the Saturday farmers market,” she said. “I think it will be pretty easy. Fifteen years is a long time to be taxed and not see anything but a sign.”

The YMCA plans to run the district-owned building. YMCA Mountain Home Development Coordinator Keyra Elmo says her group recommended the district have all cash in hand before construction starts.

District board member Mollie Marsh says officials need to raise $635,000 to start construction on the $5 million facility. They could run a bond election and pay off the borrowed money over time, but Marsh said the interest rate would dramatically increase the cost of the facility.

“The community has said more than once that they want it to be debt-free,” Marsh said. “When you go out for bond, it requires paying back interest on the money that you’ve been loaned.”

But some community members are losing patience. Mountain Home Mayor Tom Rist says he supports the effort but some community members are losing patience and the building needs to be built promptly.

“I’m telling you, it’s getting to be a firestorm,” Rist said.

Mastroeni, who has four children ages 19 months to 9 years old, said she was part of an effort to renovate the city’s existing youth center, but the building had too many issues.

“I’ve been trying to work to get another building, so we have a youth center, or someplace kids can go,” she said.

When a group of kids who used to hang out at the youth center got into a terrible car crash in May - and two died - Mastroeni decided she had to do more to help the community’s youth.

“I think that’s what really pushed me over the edge to the point where I said, ‘We need to do something,’ ” she said.


Information from: Idaho Statesman, https://www.idahostatesman.com

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