The recreation question

Rudy Hemmann

The Surveyor

In response to a board directive to explore the possibility of placing questions regarding building a recreation center and formation of a recreation center district on the November ballot, Town Administrator Chris Kirk had the following observations.

Kirk stated, considering the short amount of time town staff has had to look at these items, “Creation of a recreation district between now and November is unlikely and nearly impossible, because a service plan (for the district) must be developed and submitted to the county commissioners for approval) along with a number of steps that have to occur … prior to the November 2018 election.” 

Kirk suggested moving forward with a tax measure which could be ready for this November.

He went on to indicate, from a tax measure standpoint, the town has three alternatives under TABOR. The measure requesting creation of a recreation district may be done at a regular municipal election, which occurs every April of even-numbered years, in November elections of even-numbered years, or in November elections of odd-numbered years.

“To place a recreation center or other recreation capital improvement on the ballot this November would be a compressed timeline,” said Kirk.

Planning for a recreation center or other recreation improvements needs to be done in a comprehensive way,” continued Kirk, “Let’s say we want to do a recreation center but we don’t want to include an aquatics facility up front.” However, due to capital costs, and costs of staffing and maintenance, the town may decide to build an enhanced outdoor facility and choose to place that at Town Park rather than where the recreation center is located. In the interim the public may decide on some nicer ball fields, and realizing they would not fit in Town Park, may decide to place them at another town-owned property.

“My point is, if we are going to do that, we need to look at all of the park land owned by the town and do master plans for each of those sites so that they all work together,” stated Kirk.

He believes a more comprehensive, coordinated and functional recreation system would be the outcome. He added this would allow the use of surveys and other means to let the public have a voice in the planning of the types of recreation wanted by the citizens. The involvement by the residents would actually drive where the capital expenditures are spent depending on what amenities are most important to the residents. He also mentioned using cost estimates of projects to help determine which ones would receive the highest priorities.

Kirk also suggested hiring a professional consulting firm to guide the board and town staff in the process, which would include citizen meetings and other forms of public input. He expressed hope the process could be fast-tracked and be completed by August, which would allow time to get the matter of a recreation center on the November ballot.

Trustee Maureen Dower, in an effort to get the recreation center question on the ballot this November, had sent an email to the other trustees in which she referenced a recreation center in Erie. The message sent by Dower gave several statistics pertaining to the construction of the Erie center.

Trustee Pete Tomassi challenged Dower’s analysis of the Erie facility by stating, “I feel like in trying to get this on the November ballot this seems very rushed considering the complexity and the amount of money involved.” He lauded Dower’s endeavor to inform the board, however, he stated the attempted comparison between Erie and Berthoud was not comparing “apples to apples.”

Tomassi continued, “In 2016 the population of Erie was 23,000, Berthoud’s was 6,400; the median income of Erie was $109,000, while Berthoud’s was $62,000. We run the risk of missing important details if we try to get this on the ballot for this November.

Following discussion, staff was directed to conduct master planning of town parks and recreation improvements and to study possible ballot measures to fund parks and recreation capital improvements and ongoing operations.

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