A new era in recreation is dawning in the Alexandria area.
At its Tuesday meeting, the Alexandria City Council unanimously voted to dissolve Lakes Area Recreation and the joint powers agreement that created it back in 1989.
Only one step remains – Alexandria School District 206, which is also part of the joint powers, must also approve the dissolution at its Monday, Nov. 18 meeting.
The public, however, isn’t expected to notice any big changes.
The school district will assume responsibility for the majority of LAR’s recreation and leisure programs.
What will happen with the existing LAR staff is uncertain. Council member Roger Thalman said the city was “led to believe” that the school district would take on the employees. The dissolution document, however, says that “District 206 does not guarantee employment to any past or present LAR employee.”
LAR’s assets will be transferred to the school district, which will also assume LAR’s debts and liabilities, estimated at $229,987. The assets, mostly equipment, are valued at about $261,300.
The two townships that are part of the joint powers agreement, LaGrand and Alexandria, also voted to dissolve LAR.
The dissolution is scheduled to take effect on Dec. 31.
The decision didn’t come out of the blue. The LAR Board spent considerable time over the past year discussing its future and determined that dissolution was the best course of action, according to city leaders.
No money from the district’s general fund will be used to support the newly aligned recreation program, according to school board members. Instead, the funding will come out of Fund 4, which comes from the state to fund community education. It does not include any funds from local property taxes.
The resolution notes that several changes have taken place in the past 30 years that created an overlap in programming and facilities:
Construction of the Alexandria YMCA.
Construction of Alexandria Area High School, Woodland Elementary School and Discovery Middle School.
Renovations of other District 206 facilities.
Elimination of the swimming pool once housed in the former Central High School building, which also houses LAR’s offices.
Additions and improvements to local parks.
Expanded recreational programming, such as baseball, hockey, golf, wrestling, volleyball, swimming, biking, shooting sports, dance, arts and theater groups, Community Education programs and other activities provided by private organizations.
The council also approved an agreement with the school district about recreation programming in the future.
The city agreed to contribute $50,000 toward recreational activities in 2020. The amount can be modified through mutual written agreement of both parties. The school district will provide a recreation report to the city annually and present a funding request every year that will be evaluated by the city’s budget committee.
“It’s not a blank $50,000 check every year,” noted council member Todd Jensen.
The city will continue to have a voice in recreation. A city representative, designated by the council, will serve as a member of the school district’s Community Education Advisory Council, which makes recommendations to the school board about recreation and leisure programming.
For about a decade, the city has been paying LAR a per-capita amount, which was expected to amount to $76,500 in 2020. The city has also been sharing costs of managing LeHomme Dieu Beach with Alexandria Township, a cost of $7,500 for the city.
The new agreement excludes the school district from providing equipment, lifeguards or other personnel to staff the LeHomme Dieu and Latoka beaches. The city plans to work with LaGrand Township and Douglas County on beach management options for 2020.