ERBM discusses future projects, master plan

ERBM Photo

MEEKER | There was an ERBM Recreation and Park District board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 15.
One highlight that should interest everyone in our community is an upcoming “Spotlight Letter,” Addressed to “each valued community member,” it will appear in the Herald Times to answer common questions about the district, such as: how ERBM is funded, why it maintains a large reserve of funds (more than $9.5 million at the close of 2018), why it has undertaken some big capital expenditures in the past several years and other questions.
“I think this really does provide a lot of good information to our community members about who we are, what we do as a district financially, in the spirit of trying to be as transparent as possible,” Executive Director Sean VonRoenn said.
The meeting revolved, however, mostly—half of the two-hour meeting, in fact—around strategic planning for the future. Following some reports about that possible future, a lot of discussion ensued.
“As I talk to people, both staff and those who use this facility, what I hear over and over again is how we can expand this facility,” Director Dan Chinn said. “The scary part is operating within the budget and what we have money for, but I would (still) like to consider that (expansion).”
It was also pointed out, however, there is a problem with which direction expansion could go. The only possibilities, it was submitted, are north, but that would take out an existing ball field, and west, but that would take out the parking lot.
Money itself would also be an issue, allowing perhaps only a steel structure similar to the 4-H building instead of a brick and mortar one.
“I’m conflicted,” Director John Strate said. “I’ve talked to Dan, I’ve talked to Sean, and I’m really conflicted because if we go through a master plan process, obviously we need some guidelines. We have to know how much we can spend going into it. If you start asking people what they want, everybody wants the moon, but who wants to pay for it? Who wants to have a tax increase? We can’t do that.”
“That’s why we have to be strategic,” President Kent Walter offered. “We would have to put ‘side boards’ on this. See what the community wants, but here’s what we have available; this is reality. That’s when we can do feasibility studies.”
On the other hand, Walter added, “We might hear back from the community, ‘We don’t really need a master plan. Just keep providing us what you are right now. We’re happy. You’re solid.’”
In any case, such a community meeting would not take place until late fall, and any future projects will have to wait until present major ones, such as the Circle Park Pond Project, are complete, which means two or possibly even three years away.

By Doc Watson | Special to the Herald Times