The following is a written statement presented to the Ontario City Council during its May 28, 2015 worksession.
Mr. Mayor and Members of the City Council, I’m here this afternoon to discuss a memorandum of understanding that will position our organization and the City of Ontario in a partnership that results in the establishment of a community recreation center.
Four Rivers Healthy Community is a member-driven organization. We maintain a deep-rooted network of community partners across the Western Treasure Valley. Our vision is to make our community a safe and healthy place to live, work, raise a family and enjoy life.
For point of reference, I would like to take a step back and share with you some history about our organization and how that relates to our meeting today. Four Rivers Healthy Community was founded in 2003 with the task to develop a Health Community Coalition. In our initial steps we hosted two stakeholders summits that fostered ideas for action. Early on the need for increased community recreation opportunities was identified. This topic has continued to be a point of interest for our organization and partners. A community recreation center is a significant step in helping meet this need.
It’s important to note the need for an all-encompassing recreation center has been on our organization’s agenda from the very beginning. We are fortunate today to be positioned to make a difference in our community by addressing what the public has told us they want.
In November, our board of directors designated the community recreation center as the organization’s major project. We are focused on realizing our goal and see a partnership with the city as beneficially mutual.
Recreation centers are well known for many individual based benefits including reducing obesity, heart disease, decreasing the risk of chronic disease and increasing life expectancy. There are also Mental Health benefits to consider such as reducing depression, relieving stress, and boosting self-esteem. It goes without saying that recreation centers benefit youth, adults, seniors and people with disabilities.
Beyond just the benefits that accrue to individuals, a recreation center is an important, verifiable asset to our community. Recreation center programs offer cost-effective means for addressing some of our most troubling problems, particularly with regard to our youth. Studies indicate recreation programs can do much to reduce juvenile delinquency and crime, combat the use of drugs and alcohol, reduce teen pregnancy and school drop-outs, and promote learning. By providing opportunities to strengthen family bonds, we will promote cultural diversity and understanding, and stimulate a greater acceptance of others. Recreation opportunities can build a better and more livable community.
These benefits can act together to greatly enhance the benefits. For example, a recreation program directed at youth obesity can increase self-esteem, reduce the use of alcohol, build family bonds, and promote volunteerism, all at the same time. The manner in which combined benefits may be gained is almost endless. Clearly this can have a positive economic influence and benefit to the community as well. This collective impact indicates a recreation center is one of the most cost-effective public services available to the decision-makers.
I have visited with several of you individually and collectively about an impending partnership that would potentially utilize the defunct aquatic center and meet the recreational needs of our community.
What we propose is a strategic collaboration between the City of Ontario and Four Rivers Healthy Community as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU offers several benefits including establishing our working relationship and responsibilities.
For our part, Four Rivers intends on realizing the public’s vision for a community recreation center. We will do so by raising funds through grant seeking and donations. We recognize the importance of utilizing an outside entity, such as the YMCA, that specializes in managing recreation centers, to achieve our shared goal. Four Rivers is committed to the long haul. We look forward to growing a recreation center and assisting in the decisions that go along with realizing this project.
Our expectation of the City is a vested interest in the success of the center by actively contributing to its sustainability and participating in the decision-making process.
Today you have before you a MOU that communicates our proposed partnership. This document was drafted based on the input of representatives from 4RHC and the City of Ontario. It is our hope that through this MOU we can move the community recreation center project forward.
Joining me today is 4RHC Chair Barb Higinbotham, and directors Joe Recla, ... At this time we welcome any questions you might have for us regarding our proposal.
Casey Clark Ney
Four Rivers Healthy Community