Guest opinion: All Access Rec is the community’s plan
Voters have only a few days left to decide on All Access Rec. This is a critical time for critical needs. Every vote counts, and the district needs yours so please cast your vote by Tuesday.
Why All Access Rec?
Our facilities are aging while our community is growing. We currently don’t offer much for teens, adults or seniors, especially in Eagle and Edwards. We currently have wait lists for nearly all youth programs and would like to expand offerings to a wider group of ages. It’s the district board’s job to enrich lives; to make healthy activities and social connection affordable, attainable and available to all. A healthy, happy and active population makes the valley a better, more vibrant place to live.
Another vote? Why?
Ballot Issue 6A was narrowly defeated last November. The split was incredibly close — nearly 50/50 — indicating that interest in improvements identified in community surveys is real. With that in mind, we listened to feedback and made significant changes to the amount and structure of the proposed public financing component. This is a demonstration of engagement and good faith. It’s very much in the spirit of compromise to meet the needs of the community as a whole.
Ballot issues and legislation often undergo changes before generating approval from voters, many taking multiple forms prior to being signed into law. All Access Rec is another example of fine-tuning a ballot measure to find harmony with voters.
This is the community’s plan
All Access Rec is a scaled-down version of improvements that were requested by the public after 18 months of outreach and surveys by Mountain Rec. During this period, we attended hundreds of meetings and met with thousands of voters. We prioritized your feedback, built a budget, then told the community, “OK, this is what you asked for … and here’s what it’s going to take to make it a reality.”
We recently added innovative funding. It makes use of bonding capability that didn’t exist until after we’d submitted ballot language for 6A. It also includes a sunset and benefits for those who live in-district.
We’re continuously working to reduce costs and raise outside dollars. Together, we get to vote on how (or if) we choose to invest in our community.
There’s a little bit of something for everyone here. Expanded multi-purpose courts, community and workout spaces, an earnest beginning on a second sheet of ice, trailhead improvements and more programming for seniors and teens. One of the goals is to allow parents to grab a quick workout while their kids attend practice. It’s not a terribly deep dive into any one thing, but instead is broad in scope, again to serve the critical needs existing now as evident by aging facilities, waitlists, and as identified as the key improvements desired by those living in the Mountain Recreation district.
All Access Rec plans for the future by placing existing facilities on firmer financial footing with improved cost recovery, modeling them after the Gypsum Rec Center. It also underscores the district’s commitment to keep programs and memberships affordable. We’re also planning for a district-wide pass that provides access to all facilities for one reasonable fee.
What about Gypsum?
We’re all in this geographically, economically, fiscally and culturally complex district together. Few of us utilize just one service hub. For example, many of us have children. We’ve watched them play on every field in the valley and have seen them learn to climb, flip, and swim at the Gypsum Recreation Center. We move forward together. As one district. Or we don’t move forward at all.
Gypsum’s amenities are the furthest along. It needs comparatively less than Edwards and Eagle, communities whose seasonal facilities currently underserve their communities.
With All Access Rec, the Gypsum Recreation Center gets those admittedly unsexy (yet expensive) maintenance upgrades. It also receives a double hardwood gymnasium which will benefit the pickleball, basketball and volleyball communities. There’s also more on the way. A joint committee between the town and the district has been re-formed and dedicated itself to determining exactly what more the town wants and needs, and how to best harness the resources of the town, the entire district and the Mountain Rec Foundation to provide it.
You won’t find debate among our board about the need for parity. But we’re encouraging everyone to consider the fact that we can, and more importantly, will, achieve parity and equality over time, and hopefully sooner than most realize.
Take a complete inventory
It’s important to recognize the work of the Mountain Rec Foundation, a separately-funded entity. It’s raised over $6 million in pledged dollars so far and has invested nearly two years in courting the valley’s philanthropic community. There are projects left to fund after this ballot ask. Mountain Recreation does not intend to go back to the public with an additional ask. Instead, the District intends to bond roughly 13 million separately, then fund the rest as needed with public and private partnerships and grants raised by the Foundation.
The Foundation has uniformly heard from potential benefactors that they will step in, but only after the public has agreed to underwrite initial costs. Many of these discussions are well down the road. The goal of the Foundation is to raise the necessary funds to complete the entire project. We feel this is attainable and this positivity largely comes via feedback from those who wish to help.
Capital improvements are a long arc
IF All Access Rec doesn’t pass, Mountain Recreation’s top priority will likely be to replace Eagle’s sinking pool. Everything else will need to wait. If All Access Rec passes, there will be a design phase (with lots of public input!) and we’ll finally be able to break ground within the next 18 months.
Many residents have shared their concerns regarding increased financial burden as gas, food, and other essential items increase in costs. Property values are also increasing and with it increased taxes. The overall health of the community — financial, social, physical, and mental — is of absolute priority and considered with All Access Rec.
The district has the lowest costs for programs and services in the community and intends to keep access available for all. While All Access Rec does ask property owners to increase their tax contribution, the district is also undertaking plans to provide fee benefits for in-district residents to recognize the potential property tax increase. If you are unsure how this would impact your property taxes, review your assessed value, your detailed list of recently billed property taxes (available on the county websites), and use the calculator on the election website to learn what the increased cost would be per month.
What can we do together?
Regardless of what happens Tuesday, let’s keep talking. There are some who may not always agree, with each other or with us. That’s OK. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing — for our communities to be vibrant, active and healthy. We need and want the district’s residents to be more involved, not less.
While we as a board have the ability and latitude to offer our perspective, the district itself is legally obligated to present facts only, without endorsement or pro or con influence. We encourage you to visit the All Access Rec and FAQ sections of the Mountain Recreation website for an objective look at the project’s scope.
Liz Jones, Mike McCormack, Chris Pryor, Mikayla Curtis, and Tom Pohl make up the Mountain Recreation Board of Directors. For more information on the All Access Rec proposal, go to MountainRec.org/capital-project-information/