Residents voice park concerns
Thoughts about what the future should hold for Glenwood Springs’ Parks and Recreation Department run from the visionary to the sanitary.More parks would be good for a growing community, as would more programs for population sectors such as the young, old and Latino, some city residents say. But so would more restrooms that are better maintained and open more often, not to mention enforcement of laws requiring people to clean up after their dogs.Those are some of the ideas coming out of an effort this week by the city Parks and Recreation Department to sound out people about what they like about the department and its programs and facilities, and what can be improved. It’s part of the department’s work on creating a new parks and recreation master plan.Starting Tuesday and continuing through today, the department and a consulting firm have been meeting members of the public, communities organizations and clubs, city commissions and committees, school groups, businesses, and others, including enthusiasts of hockey, swimming, tennis and other sports.”Are we doing the things that you want us to do? Are there things that we could do better?” parks and recreation director Leon Kuhn asked about 10 members of the public Tuesday night at the Community Center, during one of this week’s focus group meetings. He also wondered what new facilities people would like to see.Tuesday night’s participants voiced a fair amount of satisfaction with what the city has to offer in terms of its parks and recreation program. But they also had all kinds of ideas about what else the city could be providing, from facilities such as a community garden, fishing pond, amphitheater, and better-connected trails, to programs such as competitive gymnastics, adopt-a-park beautification efforts, and programs for preschoolers and seniors.
Several participants urged the city to start developing more of the land it already owns for parks, including the couple thousand acres it owns in South Canyon.”We’re too crowded in our parks right now. It’s getting more and more crowded,” said Jean Martensen.But the maintenance and sanitary conditions in parks and other recreation amenities also is a concern for some, from keeping trails cleared of weeds in a timely fashion to offering adequate restroom facilities. There also is the matter of pet owners not cleaning up doggie doo-doo and keeping their pets on leashes as city ordinance requires.”I wonder if last year anybody got a ticket for violating that rule,” said Dieter Kiessling.Nancy Reinisch said one problem is making sure there are enough plastic bags and trash cans along trails so pet owners can deal with droppings.Tom Boas, a Glenwood Springs river enthusiast, said if the city wants more from its parks and recreation department, it will have to address poor pay among its staff.Many of Tuesday’s participants voiced support for an admissions tax on tourism attractions as a possible means of boosting parks and recreation funding. There was less support for increasing the city’s sales or property tax.
“We are taxed to death right now,” Liz Frye said.Sheila Markowitz said getting a tax increase passed might depend on the proposal.”If you give specific ideas to people I think people would be willing to do that,” she said.Participants on Tuesday also discussed the issue of how to serve the parks and recreation needs of the city’s growing Latino population, and whether translating information for them would be a service or disservice. Frye said another underserved population, the working poor, needs to be considered as well.”They don’t necessarily have the money to come to the Community Center and play because they’re just trying to pay their heat bill,” she said.Participants spoke with a sense of pride and ownership about the city’s parks and recreation offerings, and consider them to be an important part of Glenwood Springs.
“I think that the health of a community is judged by its parks,” Reinisch said.Kuhn said he had hoped for a larger turnout at Tuesday’s public forum, but believes the input was valuable.”I think we got a lot of feedback,” Kuhn said. “I think there’s things that we can probably do better if we take a look at it.”There will be a final public meeting tonight at 7 p.m. at the Community Center.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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