ERBM plans for the future

MEEKER I “To create opportunities for recreational, cultural and park activities for the residents of and visitors to Eastern Rio Blanco County,” is the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District’s (ERBM) mission statement and the district has started the process of planning for the future.
“The master plan process is just getting started and we want to ask the community what we are doing well, where can we improve and what the community is looking for from the district,” Michael Weinbrecht, ERBM executive director, said in the opening remarks of a public meeting held last week.
Weinbrecht introduced Anne Miller, senior project consultant with GreenPlay LLC, a nationally-renowned park and recreation consulting firm hired to help conduct a community needs assessment as part of a parks, recreation and trails master plan.
“This will be more of a listening session to better understand the needs and wants of the community,” Miller said of the public meeting.
Miller said she had conducted four focus groups meetings with youth, seniors, stakeholders, business owners and school officials before the public meeting to gather information.
GreenPlay LLC will conduct an inventory of assets, facilities and programs and work with RRC Associates, which will conduct a survey of the district in the month of February. The inventory and survey findings will be analyzed as part of the first phase, expected to last into March. The second phase will be to identify the key findings and issues, then prioritize projects and how to fund them. A public meeting will be held at the end of each phase, if not sooner.
Weinbrecht said the survey is “an important tool, important to the future of the district,” and said the district would offer incentives to encourage people to complete and return the surveys.
Everyone agreed the ERBM was an asset to the community and some of the suggestions made in the public meeting were similar to the information gathered from the focus groups, creating “themes” according to Weinbrecht.
“We have received some excellent feedback so far and there are a some common themes, like the trail system, partnerships with the schools, town, U.S. Forest Service and other entities, more equipment and possible building expansion,” Weinbrecht said.
Weinbrecht wanted to clarify that the district is not advocating higher taxes.
“There is a lot we can do with what we have and we have a certain amount of fiscal ability now. We want to know how best to use it,” Weinbrecht said.
The district is in the process of developing the Phillip and Dorcas Jensen Memorial Park, a trail system consisting of approximately three miles of looped trails, varying in difficulty for use of all ages and abilities. Weinbrecht said they will also make improvements at some of the town parks the district will take over this year.
“We want to get the message out to the public and I’m looking forward to taking the next step (survey) in the master plan process,” Weinbrecht said.