Waggener Park to be home of future recreation center and pool

By Rudy Hemmann

The Surveyor

By a split 4 to 3 vote the town board rendered a decision fixing Waggener Farm Park as the location for a recreation center which may not be constructed until far in the future.

In an effort to move forward with the parks master plan Town Administrator Chris Kirk gave a presentation before the board in which he outlined the steps taken thus far by the PORT (Parks, Open Space, Recreation and Trails) committee in selecting a site for a recreation center. Kirk stated town staff could not give accurate information concerning the master plan without the board’s intervention in naming a site. In conjunction with the location of a recreation center was the future site of the town swimming pool. It was noted the municipal pool should be located in close proximity to the recreation center, which is slated to have an indoor pool, in order to take advantage of reduced operating and maintenance costs.

According to an information sheet provided on the topic, “The Town has undertaken a project to finalize the plans suggested in the 2016 PORT master plan. Specifically, the firm of Wenk and Associates was hired to assist the Town in finalizing master plans for Kneivel Park, Richardson Park, Waggener Park, Town Park, and Bein Park. After a thorough review by staff, Bein Park was removed from the project with the intent that it remain in its current form. The resulting savings from removal of that design have been used for additional public outreach.” The outreach referred to came in the form of an online survey that was conducted to gain more public input into the process.  Kirk had stated the purpose for acting on his request was due to a mid-August date for being on this year’s November ballot looming.

As Kirk got underway with his presentation Trustee Pete Tomassi questioned the wisdom of placing yet another tax issue on the ballot. He pointed out that Larimer County, the Thompson School District and an initiative to fund road construction were all submitting ballot initiatives to raise taxes this year.

Kirk presented data and maps which showed the Richardson and Waggener properties with and without proposed recreation centers.

During public comment on the issue, Shara Larson of the Berthoud Youth Athletic Association spoke regarding the dire situation facing her group in their efforts to find athletic fields on which to play various sports. She spoke of the battles her group must wage with Berthoud Parks and Rec. and the Berthoud schools in order to find an opening for their kids to play a baseball or football game or a soccer match. She went on to state her group serves 200 to 300 families in the Berthoud area, and that the town is in need of all types of athletic facilities and that the need is now. Larson urged the trustees to not put off the need for athletic fields while waiting for the recreation center to be built.

Len Guldenpfennig also spoke and voiced a great disappointment in being in front of the board. He noted that he has been on the PORT committee since it started more than three years ago.

“… and there is nothing to show for it,” said Guldenpfennig. He informed the trustees that there is nothing in the “statistically valid” survey of 717 respondents, which was done by consultants, to indicate where a recreation center should be located. According to Guldenpfennig.hat question was not asked in the survey. The survey was focused on what was wanted, not where to put it.

Guldenpfennig stated the misconception regarding on which property a recreation center should be located comes from misinterpreting the results of a “stakeholders meeting.” (He invited persons who are interested to read page 31 of a copy of survey results he held in his hand.)

Guldenpfennig.went so far as to say. “Anyone who tells you that the public (in a survey) wants a recreation center and they want it located on Waggener Farm Park is grossly misinformed.”

Discussions on the issue of whether to place the recreation center on the Richardson or Waggener property went on for nearly another hour, during which it was decided the recreation center was not the priority, but trails, ball fields, and the pool are of prime importance.

A motion was finally made to locate a future recreation center at Waggener Farm Park was made and seconded. Trustees Pete Tomassi, Tim Hardy, and Mayor Will Karepeck voted “No” on the motion.

Next week another mosquito discussion.

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