Aurora breaks ground on Central recreation center, expected to open in 2018

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AURORA | The 60,000-square foot Aurora Central Recreation Center is a step closer to being a reality. Ground broke on the marijuana tax revenue-funded project Friday.

The 20-acre vacant plot in central Aurora will now be developed into a two-story recreation center with an aquatic area, gym, track and fitness area. It will also have a teaching kitchen, multi-purpose rooms and exercise rooms.

“This is an exciting time and an exciting opportunity,” Mayor Hogan said in a statement. “This is an opportunity to do something that we have talked about for a long, long time and gives us that much more of an opportunity to serve the citizens of Aurora.”

The city purchased the site in 1998. In 2011, voters decided against a ballot initiative that included a $33.5 million recreation center designed by the Parks Department. It similarly included a gym, aquatic space and meeting spaces.

$2 million in marijuana tax revenue will be dedicated to the project for the next 25 years to repay a $35 million bond. Aurora City Council approved the money last summer. For the most part, city leaders have only funded short-term projects with marijuana money due to federal prohibition of the substance, the Aurora Sentinel reported last August.

“In my mind, the odds of marijuana revenue going away is pretty slim,” said at-large councilman Bob LeGare to the Sentinel when the funding was to be approved last summer. “If we see after seven years sales drop off, we adjust our budget so we can make the debt service payment.”

The city has also committed $400,000 to artwork for the recreation center.

The project is set to be completed by the end of 2018.

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