Jordan voters to decide whether to build community center

  • Article by: ERIN ADLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 7, 2014 - 4:05 PM

The school district has added a second question to the referendum ballot, asking voters for $5.245 million to build a community center this March.

«I feel that we’ve put a product out there that’s responsible to the taxpayer and also builds something that is needed.» Matt Helgerson, Jordan superintendent

When they head to the polls in March, voters in Jordan will have two referendum questions to consider rather than just one.

Last month, the school board unanimously approved adding a second question to the ballot. That question asks for $5.245 million to build a community center with two gyms, an elevated walking track and additional multipurpose spaces.

The community center would be adjacent to the completely remodeled middle school, a $29.345 million project to be built if question one passes. The renovation would re-use the existing middle school’s shell, modernizing and reconfiguring the floor plan and adding a second gym.

Passing question one will increase annual property taxes by $242 for the owner of a $200,000 house in Jordan. The second question, which can only pass if voters approve the first, will cost the same homeowner $55 a year.

At a November joint meeting with the school board, City Council members said they weren’t interested in funding the community center’s construction and recommended the board add a second question, said Ed Shukle, Jordan’s city administrator.

The question now is whether the city will pay for the center’s ongoing maintenance and staffing, he said.

“Overall, these things are nice to have, and I think that in the long run they make sense,” said Shukle. “But you have to look at it in terms of, is it worth the city’s investment on an ongoing maintenance [basis]?”

The center would cost an estimated $50,000 to $60,000 annually to run, Shukle said.

Among council members, opinions vary as to whether a community center is necessary, given Jordan’s size, and whether the city should pay for it.

“There are mixed opinions. There are some City Council members that are supportive of it, and there are some that are very much against it,” said Matt Helgerson, superintendent of the Jordan School District. “I think it’s going to be very close.”

To involve both groups in the project, the council and school board will have to “tweak and revise” their joint powers agreement. After revision, it will come back to the board and council for approval, likely in February, Helgerson said.

Even if the city won’t pay for the center’s maintenance, the district would still build it if voters approve question two, Helgerson said. “I think it can be done [without their help], but obviously I would like to see a partnership with the city,” Helgerson said.

Population rises

The school district and city started seriously discussing the idea of building a community space last year, Helgerson said.

With 5,700 people, Jordan’s population has doubled over the last 10 to 15 years, Helgerson said.

Currently, there is no community center or large-scale fitness facility in town, though there are two small, 24-hour gyms, Shukle said.

About 25 communities in Minnesota, including Delano and St. Michael-Albertville, have community centers connected to schools, he said.

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