Agreement to benefit all

MEEKER I It’s a prime example of how communication and cooperation between two community organizations can be beneficial to the organizations and the public they serve. The Town of Meeker and the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District recently signed an agreement that turns responsibility for the majority of Meeker’s parks over to the recreation district.
“Truthfully, it was something that both the Town of Meeker as well as ERBM Recreation and Park District had been contemplating for quite some time,” said Michael Weinbrecht, ERBM Recreation and Park District executive director. “However, ERBM did initiate the first conversation.”
“When the ERBM Recreation and Park District was formed in the early 1980’s, it was formed with the goal that ERBM Recreation and Parks District would  manage all parks within the Town of Meeker and there is now adequate funding within the district for them to fulfill the goal,” said town administrator Sharon Day.
Of the town’s nine existing parks, the district will assume responsibility for seven: Town Park, Circle Park, Sixth Street Park, 11th Street Park (at 11th and Pinyon with the basketball court), 12th Street Park (with the children’s play center next to the apartments), Sanderson Hills Park and Sage Hills Park, in addition to the parks already owned by the district. The two remaining parks which the town will continue to oversee are Ute Park and the small RV park.
“This was a mutual agreement,” Day said of the decision to retain town  supervision of the two parks. “They are both more complicated and don’t fit the rec. district’s mission.  For instance Ute Park is rented for grazing and the land has some restrictions which were agreed to by the town when the land was purchased, regarding being used primarily for open space, etc.”
The district already uses Sixth Street Park for its youth baseball and soccer programs and Circle Park for ice skating.
“Entering into this lease has allowed the recreation district to significantly increase the amount of park acreage available for programming and recreational improvements, without utilizing tax payer funds for land acquisition,” Weinbrecht said.
For park visitors, any changes in their park experience should be positive ones.
“Our hope is to improve the user’s experience by increasing maintenance and adding amenities to these existing park properties. We look forward to increasing the use and programming of these parks,” Weinbrecht added.
The agreement comes with a significant monetary benefit for the town. The town budgeted $50,513 for parks in 2011. The proposed budget for parks in 2012 is $18,910, a savings of $31,603 for the town.
The town will apply that savings toward maintenance and operations at the downtown building (the old elementary school property. The budget for the former elementary school building is proposed at $22,000 for operation and maintenance, plus $50,000 budgeted in case of capital expenses that may arise.
“I am very excited  about the great cooperation and vision shown by the ERBM and Town of Meeker elected officials and staff working together  to provide more cost effective and  better services to our community,” Day said.
Weinbrecht agreed, stating, “We look forward to increasing the use and programming of these parks, and would like to thank both the town board of trustees as well as Sharon Day for working together with the district in order to make this a reality.”