Vail Valley Voices: Picture’s bright for recreation district |

Vail Valley Voices: Picture’s bright for recreation district

Michael Glass
Eagle County, CO, Colorado

Despite recent economic troubles, living and working in Eagle County still holds the sunny promise of better, fun-filled days in one of the most beautiful areas of the country.

As chairman of the Western Eagle County Recreation District Board of Directors, I wanted to share our optimistic outlook and thank the many people, partners and supporters who have helped WECMRD achieve its goals of positive, affordable and enjoyable recreation for western Eagle County.

First, of course, are the residents. Your long-standing support and commitment to recreation resulted in the approval of our 2003 bond issue. The return on that support is apparent each day that kids, teens and adults use our facilities and programs from Edwards to Gypsum.

At Freedom Park, WECMRD partnered with Eagle County and provided over $1.2 million for the development and construction of the sports fields, skate park and spray park. And we have managed and maintained the facilities for the past five years.

Farther downvalley, WECMRD contributed just over $3.6 million in cooperation with the town of Eagle and Eagle County for the Eagle pool and ice rink and the fairgrounds sports complex, both of which host thousands of participants annually.

And, most recently, WECMRD partnered with the town of Gypsum for the wildly successful Gypsum Recreation Center, providing $3.1 million toward a facility that has become the model of rural recreation centers in Colorado.

Looking ahead at capital improvements, we are starting plans for the new Freedom Park Field House in Edwards, the fruition of input by citizens, government officials and recreation professionals. The field house will provide a year-round recreation facility and will pump approximately $8 million in 2009 into the county economy through construction and equipment purchases.

In all, from 2003 through 2009, WECMRD will have spent $16 million toward new or improved recreation facilities to meet the needs of families in Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum. Thank you, WECMRD residents, for your support!

I’m also thankful to the many partnering agencies that have helped WECMRD become a leader in recreation services. The Eagle County commissioners and county employees have been incredibly supportive, working to build cooperative agreements for Freedom Park and the fairgrounds complexes. The towns of Eagle and Gypsum have committed funds, staff time and support as we’ve increased recreation outlets for residents of those communities. The Edwards and Berry Creek metro districts have provided immeasurable assistance.

The Eagle County School District is one of our longest and most treasured partners. And we are very thankful for the innovative programs and facilities provided by our fellow recreation agencies at Avon and Vail Recreation Districts. Together, we deliver programs and facilities serving youth throughout the valley.

One of our cherished partners since 2002 is The Youth Foundation, providing recreational-based activities that build lifelong skills. We are thankful for their commitment to ensuring all youth have access to the benefits of structured, planned recreation programs. And to one of our newest partners, Meet the Wilderness, thank you for your expertise in leading and developing our climbing programs at the Gypsum Recreation Center and building exciting new activities for the Rec Kidz Summer Camp.

On a personal note, I am thankful to the WECMRD board for implementing our youth sports fee reduction in 2007. We are proud that we could reduce or freeze the registration fees for all youth sports programs, enabling more kids to continue to participate. We reduced fees by up to 66 percent in our soccer program, for example, and saw participation skyrocket in Edwards, Eagle and Gypsum. Similar fee rollbacks for baseball, basketball, volleyball, flag football and other programs resulted in higher participation for those activities as well.

Of course, none of the efforts mentioned above would have been possible without the dedication of our staff ” full time, part time or volunteer. To these hard-working members of the community, many thanks to all of you.

As we move into 2009, everyone at WECMRD is looking forward to continuing our successes in offering quality programs and facilities. Thank you all for giving us the opportunity to do so.

Michael Glass is the chairman of Western Eagle County Recreation District Board of Directors.

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