Aurora residents can now enjoy a new recreation center, thanks to funds collected through city taxes on legal marijuana. The Aurora Central Recreation Center, at 18150 East Vassar Place, opened to the public on Thursday, May 9, with a celebration including city officials.
The new building boasts a gymnasium with six basketball hoops, a wave pool and water slides; a full fitness center, multi-purpose rooms; a teaching kitchen and local art throughout the building. Visitors can participate in over twenty drop-in fitness and swimming classes, as well as cooking, gymnastics and martial arts lessons, and summer and holiday day camps; after-school programming and senior activities are also planned.
Commissioned in 2015 by the Aurora City Council, the rec center project budget drew from $34 million in city sales taxes on recreational pot, according to Aurora budget manager Greg Hayes. The 61,000-square-foot building stands on a parcel of land purchased by the city in 1998 and is Aurora's first new recreation center in nearly forty years.
Although the center's operational costs won't be covered by marijuana tax revenue, Hayes says that the city has set aside another $2 million in marijuana tax revenue to help update the Aurora Southwest Recreation Center, and earmarked more pot revenue for various transportation projects.
Home to just over twenty dispensaries, Aurora has invested a hefty portion of its marijuana taxes back into the community. In 2017, the city used $900,000 in pot revenue to renovate an old Aurora Police Department gym into a daily resource center for the homeless.
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