Park board candidates explore growth, marketing issues at forum

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By Sandy Barnes

Candidates for the board of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District addressed challenges of maintaining the quality of parks and facilities and managing increased usage during a forum April 23 at the Evergreen Lake House.

While fielding questions from the audience, Peter Lindquist and other candidates offered their views on promoting venues and programs to people outside Evergreen.

“The marketing we need to do is focused on our community,” said Lindquist, the only incumbent among four candidates vying for three seats on the board. 

“We should be thinking about the impacts on our parks,” said candidate Peg Linn. 

While volunteering at the Evergreen Nature Center, Linn said, she has seen increasing numbers of people at Evergreen Lake, and long lines at the boat rental area.

The mission of the park district is to enhance the mountain community, Linn remarked.

Linn, Lindquist and candidates John Ellis and Monty Estis all spoke against offering Groupons, discounted tickets for park users.

“I don’t think Groupons is a good idea,” said Estis. “I don’t think we should be marketing down the hill.”

“I say ‘no’ to Groupons, Ellis said. “Groupon people are just looking for the next good deal.”

“I want to assure that Evergreen keeps its unique character,” said Linn. “We do need to watch that we don’t over-program and go beyond our carrying capacity.”

“I would like to take a look at utilization of facilities,” said Estis. “I understand that over-utilization of facilities is an issue.”

Ellis suggested combining some events so there are fewer to manage, and reaching out to visitors when they are in Evergreen.

“We can limit the size and number of events,” Linn added.

“One of the challenges we face as a district is that we are the only venue for large-scale events,” Lindquist said. “I think it’s important to give priority to local events."

“I think the first thing we need to do is look at if it fits in with the spirit and quality of Evergreen,” said Estis.

The park district could consider a for-profit event if it fits the community, Estis said.

The question to ask when scheduling an event at an Evergreen park is how it gives back to the community, said Ellis.

“We already have two arts festivals,” Linn said, responding to a question about permitting outside groups to hold events in Evergreen. “If it’s just for-profit, do we really need to have it here?”

While discussing the impact of park events on local businesses, Ellis said the new director of the Big Chili Cook-off found that it doesn’t affect the downtown area.

“It’s been nice for us that there has been some trickle-down, but that’s not our charge,” said Lindquist.

“The benefits to businesses are the icing on the cake,” Linn said. “Trickle-down is not our primary concern.”

While looking at ways to handle increasing numbers of people coming to Evergreen parks, the candidates expressed support for the recently hired park ranger. 

“I think the idea of the ranger is good,” said Ellis. 

Ellis also said that providing shuttle service for large events and advertising it would be helpful in addressing parking issues.

“The ranger is a welcome addition to Evergreen parks and recreation,” said Linn. 

She said the plan to create a volunteer ranger program also would be beneficial. 

Ellis and the other candidates also stressed the need for improved communications between the park district and the community.

“I think we need to go out and talk to people,” said Ellis. 

Estis said that some people he has talked with have said their concerns haven’t been acknowledged. 

“We need to listen to what the community says,” he said.

“We do try to listen and hear what you want,” said Lindquist.

Because of concerns about overuse of Evergreen Lake Park, some events have been moved to other locations, he said.

The candidates also focused on the importance of maintaining natural areas within the Evergreen park district, as well as the placement of art in various locations.

Bringing sculptures in Evergreen parks into one area would be a good idea, Linn said in response to a question about art in the district.

“I think including the arts is important,” Linn remarked. “Having an arts partnership is very valuable. You need all those different avenues.”

“Sculptures are fine, but not in natural areas,” said Estis.

Ellis said the sculpture planned at the Veterans Commemorative Walk in Buchanan Park blends into the setting. 

Residents will have the opportunity to vote for the candidates in the May 6 election. Candidate Tim Kimber recently withdrew from the park board race in anticipation of a move to Omaha, Neb.

An overview of the EPRD candidates

• John Ellis is director of community relations at Evergreen National Bank and an active member of the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the board of Evergreen Christian Outreach and the Evergreen Metropolitan District.

• Monty Estis is a systems analyst in the IT field who has lived in Evergreen for the past two years. He is an avid outdoorsperson who bikes, hikes, plays volleyball and has a background as a gymnastics instructor.

• Peter Lindquist is a career banker who currently serves as a principal with PL2 Inc. and has lived in Evergreen since 1989. He also holds a law degree. Lindquist has served on the board since 2011 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy.

• Peg Linn has recently retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and serves as a volunteer at the Evergreen Nature Center. She has lived in Evergreen for the past 12 years.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.