Romer: Mountain Recreation deserves a yes vote
Eagle County census data shows a continued downvalley expansion, with the population almost doubling in the past 20 years. The populations of Eagle and Gypsum have grown by 15.4% and 24.1%.
Mountain Recreation plays a vital role in meeting the physical and emotional health needs of Eagle County, and their facilities were built to serve about half of the current population. With interest rates at historic lows, there is no better time to do this project — and the district’s growth shows no signs of slowing.
The ballot question will ask voters to approve an increase of 4.505 mills to raise about $3.8 million in 2022 and afterward to fund:
- Transforming Mountain Rec’s current facilities into multigenerational, multicultural community centers and social hubs. It’s a smart investment in our community’s overall mental and physical health.
- Year-round access to new community spaces, behavioral health programs and social activities.
- The All Access Rec pass includes access to all Mountain Rec Facilities for one low rate.
- Improvements to trailheads, swimming and recreational facilities to provide more access for active outdoor recreation, rec leagues, sports clubs and summer camps.
- It will cost the average homeowner just $18 a month in increased taxes thanks to the diligent fundraising efforts of Mountain Rec staff who have already raised $6 million (and counting!).
Mountain Rec has worked with the community, local businesses, nonprofits and local governments over the past three years to identify and prioritize the most important upgrades and improvements to the district’s facilities. The result is the All Access Rec program, the first property tax increase request from the district in 20 years.
Mountain Recreation has proven to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars by repaying previous debt 10 years early, and more importantly, these facilities fill an essential community role by providing recreational programming and facilities for residents. The district has reduced the tax-funding needed by increasing private fundraising based on public feedback sessions, showing a good faith effort to listen to feedback.
These facility improvements offer the ability to help provide physical space for much-needed community assets such as behavioral health counseling space and early childhood. Indoor recreation facilities improve the quality of life in the community.
We join others such as Vail Health and Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and the Vail Daily in recognizing the need for expanding and improving community recreation center facilities and programs. Mountain Rec, its facilities and all of its programs play a vital role in meeting the physical and emotional health needs of Eagle County residents.
The importance of this effort to building a healthy lifestyle and providing year-round access to recreation facilities benefits our business community; access to community health and fitness facilities leads to healthier employees, and increased access to recreational programs leads to deeper connections between citizens.
We believe that voting yes on 6A signifies support for investment in our community that reaches across age, cultural and economic divides. It’s a vote to preserve and enhance the quality of life for our year-round residents. Transforming Mountain Rec’s current facilities into multigenerational, multicultural community centers and social hubs is a smart investment in our community’s overall mental and physical health.
Our community continues to struggle with the need for personal connections, mental health challenges, and socioeconomic disparities. This manifests in the business community with employee attraction and retention challenges. For all these reasons, Vail Valley Partnership’s board of governors is proud to endorse the Mountain Recreation mill levy question to support capital improvements in Gypsum, Eagle and Edwards facilities.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at VailValleyPartnership.com.