Residents of southeast Aurora can thank recreational marijuana taxes for the 76,000-square-foot recreation center that's being built at 25400 East Alexander Drive, and held a "topping off" ceremony earlier this month.
During an Aurora city budget workshop, councilmember Françoise Bergan, now mayor pro tem, had advocated for a new rec center in her ward in southeast Aurora. The city approved using marijuana taxes for the $41.9 million project last year, and officially broke ground in February. This will be Aurora's first recreation center in the southeast area, and the second to be funded by the retail marijuana sales tax.
When the center is open in early 2023, it will boast an indoor swimming pool with a water slide, multi-purpose community and party pool rooms, a figure eight-shaped running track with multiple elevations, and an indoor, 20,000-square-foot fieldhouse.
The center will also feature "Florescence," an art installation designed by Indianapolis-based Project One Studio for the city's Art in Public Places Program. "At the public input meetings about the center, the artists were on hand during one of them, gathering input from the public with regard to words and feelings they felt toward their community and toward the center," explains Erin Pulliam, the city's marketing coordinator. "What came to be is the artwork that will be commissioned."
Aurora currently has four full-service recreation centers, including the Aurora Center for Active Adults, Beck Recreation Center, Moorhead Recreation Center and the Central Recreation Center — which opened in 2019 and was funded by $34 million in retail marijuana taxes. In 2017, the city used $900,000 in marijuana tax revenue to open the Aurora Day Resource Center, which provides such services as food, water and a safe space for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Last year, Aurora City Council approved increasing the city's sales tax on recreational marijuana from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent, with the additional revenues going to fund youth violence prevention projects.