The Tomah City Council approved a resolution to divert some of the city’s room tax revenue to Tomah Recreation Park during the council’s regular meeting Tuesday.

The resolution reduces by half the portion of the city’s room tax allocated to the Tomah Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitor’s Bureau for building maintenance, leaving one percent for the Chamber and one percent for Recreation Park.

The funds generated from the room tax would be used for improvements and upgrades at Recreation Park, including replacement of existing paved areas and paving additional areas to control drainage and manure management, relocation of the ticket booth to the south gate area and replacement of the roadway with a pedestrian promenade and amenities at the Butts Avenue entry.

City Parks and Recreation director Joe Protz said the work is something the Parks and Recreation Commission has been looking at for several years.

With continued daily activity, weekend events and big events booked for 2020 and 2021, Protz said commissioners were concerned with handicap accessibility. He said it has been the number-one complaint about the park.

“Events at the Recreation building, especially in the winter − it’s a nightmare getting between the two,” Protz said. “It’s time to address that.”

The proposed projects are estimated to cost between $600,000-$700,000, Protz said, and will rise as time passes as construction costs keep increasing. The accessibility to room tax dollars will allow the city to build up funds and begin looking at engineering designs to get the project rolling and started sooner rather than later.

Use of room tax dollars will also allow Parks and Recreation to direct some of the department’s funds for other city projects.

“Recreation Park is a big facility. It’s a major undertaking for our city, and room tax can help us improve that,” Protz said. “Where room tax can’t help us improve is our community parks. It would be nice to, but we just can’t tap into that for our general needs. In return it helps us with those projects as well.”

The resolution was approved unanimously. An ordinance amendment is still required to finalize redirection of the room tax dollars.

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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