County commissioners table public hearing on new ERBM service plan

RBC logoRBC I A number of rumors, concerns and fears were put to rest Monday afternoon as the Rio Blanco County commissioners postponed a public hearing regarding a new service plan proposed for the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District.

ERBM Executive Director Sean VonRoenn and the recreation district had sent a letter out to a number of Meeker area residents saying they wanted to have a public hearing with the commissioners regarding a sweeping set of changes to the recreation district’s service plan.
Many of the residents didn’t know what the proposed changes included and were concerned about what they would be or if fees would be increased. The letter gave no indication as to what changes were planned.
VonRoenn opened by explaining that the service plan for the ERBM is still running under the original service plan adopted at the rec district’s inception in 1981. He said that plan calls for the district to build a pool, maintain Meeker town parks and do a number of other things that the district has been doing for decades.
He said he wants to establish a new and current service plan that will be a bit more of a road map that the district can follow now and to update many things out of the plan and add the current situation to the plan.
He said there are virtually no changes coming in the service plan itself that include fee increases and no changes to the plan that the district tends to the town parks.
“There are things in the original service plan that refer to payments, statutes and other expenses that just don’t exist any more,” VonRoenn said. “We are seeking this update to get paperwork in order and up to date.
“There have been quite a few changes over these 35 years and the county valuation and other key numbers have changed many times,” he said. “Most of these things outlined in the original plan are things we are already doing.”
Resident Jim George said he thought the letter sent to the landowners about the public hearing was very vague and that he wanted to know what was changing. He said he found a 67-page document on the rec center’s website and wanted to know if there is a way to compare or decipher what the changes mean.
VonRoenn said the heart of the issues is a 10-page document.
Landowner/business owner Harry Watts said he doesn’t have much interest in the rec center because the only game he likes is golf, and there is nothing in the document about golf. He said he pays a pretty fair amount in recreation district property taxes and gets nothing out of it.
VonRoenn said the district is only forbidden from opening a putt-putt type of golf business but that getting involved with Meeker Golf Course is a different story.
Watt said he believes that the day is coming in the not-too-distant future that Meeker Golf Course will go broke and what about the recreation district taking over the golf course, which, he said, is currently owned by the members.
VonRoenn said he would need an updated plan to allow the district to become involved in the golf course as well.
Resident Sharon Day said she had read the new plan but that she can’t find a copy of the old plan to compare it to.
VonRoenn said it would not be difficult to prepare a two- or three-page document of comparisons between the old service plan and the newly proposed service plan.
He said it would only take a couple of days to prepare the comparison.
VonRoenn and the commissioners agreed that the comparison sheet would be posted on the recreation district’s website (www.meekerrecdistrict.com) by the close of business on July 18, which will allow the public time to compare the old plan with the proposed changes in the new service plan. A new public hearing will be held at 1:15 p.m. on Aug. 8.
“Pretty much everything we want and need to do to move on from here will require a change in the service plan,” VonRoenn said. “This new plan will make it all a lot easier to move forward.”