In many ways, the closest thing we have to a city council in Evergreen is the board of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District. While there are other special districts with elected boards here, the combination of EPRD’s mission and the facilities it manages gives it a much more overreaching presence than other districts.
Three of the five seats on the EPRD board are in play in this spring’s election. While there has been a lot of discussion about whether an arts center should be built in Buchanan Park, there are broader and more urgent issues facing the district that will undoubtedly be influenced by the candidates we choose to represent us for the next four years.
We’ve made some remarkable investments in Buchanan Park over the last 10 years, and my vote in this election will be influenced to a large extent by what candidates think we should be doing with those investments. EPRD voters passed bond issues in 2000 and 2005 worth more than $13 million to develop a signature regional park. When it was all said and done, we’d acquired more than 40 acres of land. Very few communities can even identify, let alone purchase, that much property for a new park.
We then entered into a planning process that lasted over a year to develop a plan for the park. A grant from Great Outdoors Colorado was secured to help pay to develop the plan, and literally thousands of hours of volunteer time were spent getting it prepared and adopted. The ultimate result is a spectacular venue that will maintain the feeling of open space while providing a variety of amenities for this community. While there has been much public discussion on whether there should be an arts center, the plan also calls for playgrounds, picnic areas, a veterans’ memorial, trails and an amphitheater.
The arts center probably cannot move forward any time soon for no other reason than there is no readily available funding source. The new board should get to work on making the rest of these amenities available to us as soon as it can. We’re paying for the park every time we make a property tax payment, and we should start getting our money’s worth.
The EPRD election is May 2. I’ll be looking for candidates who have a plan to provide us with the community treasure we were promised when we passed two separate bond issues and agreed to spend $13.2 million to buy and develop Buchanan Park.
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One part of the Buchanan Park plan that’s ready to move forward is the veterans’ memorial. The American Legion is working with a variety of area service clubs to raise the funds necessary to make it a reality. There will be a community open house April 17 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for people to see the plans for the memorial, which will be a walk that commemorates local veterans and active-duty troops. The sponsors will even buy you lunch if you come by to check things out. If you’d like more information, either visit the American Legion’s local website at www.legionpost2001.org or call 303-674-5443.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.