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New Rifle parks and rec board starts work today

Heidi RiceWestern Garfield County Staff

RIFLE – A new Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is now in place with the passage of the 1-cent sales tax, and the first meeting will be today.City council members on Wednesday night voted on the appointments to the board, naming three new members and an alternate, along with four people from the Metropolitan Park District Board.The passage of the sales tax in September’s municipal election means the new Parks and Rec board will replace the Metro District board at the beginning of next year. The sales tax will also replace the Metro District’s existing mill levy on property owners.Appointed to the board were Steve Carter, Ed Weiss, Mildred Whitt and Jim Boone as an alternate. The four members from the Metro Park District Board to serve will be Kelly Bina, Rich Carter, Betsy Rice and Mark Lapka.Along with the four Metro Park board members, nine candidates applied for a position.”We’d really to thank all the citizens who were interested in this,” said Recreation Director Aleks Briedis.The new Parks and Recreation Advisory Board will meet for the first time today to organize and get up to speed on parks and recreation issues. It will also begin prioritizing projects to be funded by the new sales tax, which will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2006.”We’ll look at what we have out there and what needs to be done,” Briedis said. “Parks will probably be the first priority in the next year and then (recreation) programs as we get more staff.”In other council business:• Council members have directed staff to pursue an agreement that would allow the city to purchase the Rifle Creek Theatre, which has been on the market for the past year.Talk of a multi-plex theater coming to Rifle, prompted city officials to consider purchasing the building in order to retain it for historical and cultural purposes.The small, single-screen theater on East Third Street, has been around since 1948 and has been owned and operated by Kelly and Jacinto Iniquez for the past 10 years.”Both staff and the present theater owners believe that the present business may become infeasible to operate in the next several years due to interest from developers in constructing a multi-plex theater in the Rifle area,” said City Manager John Hier. “If and when that happens, the city should be in a position to preserve and renovate the Rifle Creek Theatre for cultural events such as art, live music and community events.”A tentative closing date for the sale has been set for Dec. 19.• The city will continue to explore the possibility of a joint public safety complex with Garfield County at 18th Street and Railroad Avenue.At an informal workshop Wednesday night, council directed staff to explore the issue further and get hard numbers of how much it would cost the city.County Manager Ed Green said the project would be about $5.5 million based on the square footage split between the city and county. He estimated the county’s portion would be $2 million to $2.5 million and the city’s $2.5 million to $3 million.If the city and county join together in the project, it would house the Rifle Police Department, Rifle Municipal court, Garfield County Courts, probation and a satellite office of the sheriff’s department.A proposed schedule plans for construction of the building in April 2007, with a completion date of July 2008.The next regular meeting of the Rifle City Council is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2.


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