Citizen Telegram guest column: Rifle’s grit – making it work for a rec and community center
I am proud to live in Rifle, but it’s time for us as a community to stand up and show that we’re a force to be reckoned with. A recreation and community center will do just that.
I grew up here during the 1980s and ’90s. I swam with the Rifle Stingrays in the outdoor pool during the summers, and my mom drove me to Battlement Mesa to use their facility in the winters. In high school, I quit swimming competitively because to be on a team, I would have to drive to Glenwood Springs each day at 4:30 a.m.
It’s no surprise that when I left Rifle to attend college, I didn’t intend to return. If you had asked why, I would have said that our town was too small with nothing to do. So it was to my utter surprise that I found myself deciding to move back “home” last year, after a decade of being away. In those 10 years, many positive changes had been made in the community. I marveled at Centennial Park, the growth of Deerfield Park and the bustling downtown activity on Third Street.
Why did I come back? Because Rifle has grit. We are a small town that’s been through a lot (boom and bust, anyone?) We are hard workers, but we like to play hard, too. We care for our children, earn our livings honestly and support our neighbors. We have attitude, but underneath the tough exterior, we all care deeply for each other and our community.
But now it’s time for Rifle to stand up and show what it’s really made of. Building a recreation and community center here will put Rifle on the map. It will be a message to all the other communities on the Western Slope that we are competitive for attracting businesses and citizens to our city, and that we are here to stay. No more “boomtown,” “bedroom community,” or “downvalley trash” for us!
Beyond that, a recreation and community center here in Rifle will benefit Rifle citizens personally. People of all ages – children, teenagers, adults and seniors – will reap benefits from the facility. And those benefits won’t come at the cost of several gallons of gasoline to get there, either.
Many people (including me) are still concerned about the state of our local economy. The recreation and community center would bolster our economy in many ways. People and businesses would be attracted to stay in Rifle. Right now, Rifle has a central geographic location, a beautiful hospital, library, police station and fire house, plus amazing outdoor recreation opportunities. But as health and obesity issues plague our nation, people now consider indoor recreation facilities must-have amenities for their communities. Rifle should be positioning itself alongside many of the other Western Slope communities who already have such facilities, including Meeker, Fruita, Delta and Gypsum.
Let’s stand up, toot our own horns, and be proud of our community, Rifle! More than that, let’s each make the minimal contribution (just 0.74 per $100 spent) that it would cost to provide an amenity to our community that will continue giving for years. I hope you will all stand proud with me and vote YES on D.
Angela Strode is a Rifle attorney and co-chair of the Committee for a Rifle Recreation and Community Center, a registered political issues group that placed the 0.74 percent sales tax, ballot question D, on the Sept. 10 municipal election ballot.
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