Letter to the Editor: Community center not needed

Dear Editor:
I am totally amused by the number of people who have written letters to the editor and articles for the paper regarding “the Justice Center.” Really people, you should not open your mouth until you have checked out the facts.
Yes, the county is calling the project “the Justice Center,” but it could easily have been called “the Courthouse Annex, “the Courthouse Addition,” or “the Courtroom Replacement.” The fact is, the new property addition to the county, no matter where it is built, will just replace what is already in the middle of downtown Meeker — the courtroom, court offices, sheriff’s offices, dispatch office, the jail, the detention offices, and the assistant district attorney’s offices. These activities are already smack dab in the middle of Meeker. They are all housed in the courthouse and have been for many decades.
Some years ago, the state informed the county that the courtroom did not have proper security and would need to get proper security in place. The only way to get “proper security” would be to put a metal scanner at each courthouse entrance and each person who walked through the doors would have to be scanned. It was decided at that time, it wouldn’t work for every member of the public coming to the courthouse to walk through a metal detector just to pay their taxes or renew their license plates or whatever their business was in the county offices.
There was also the problem of the jail regularly flooding out the Clerk and Recorder’s office with sewage. Water on permanent records would be bad enough, but sewage.
No office should have to put up with that. The sheriff’s offices and the district attorney’s offices are crammed into tight little spaces just trying to accommodate the employees. This is not good when they are practically on top of one another and each employee is dealing with confidential information.
I’ve heard and read that some think we should just let Rangely have “the Justice Center.” Talk about suicide of a downtown area! There are close to 40 jobs connected to “the Justice Center.” No one should wish that many jobs leave a small town at one time!
I’m sure Rangely would love to be the benefactor of that, but not one respectful citizen should wish that many neighbors be moved or without positions.
There has been a lot of talk about razor wire. Really? Do you see any razor wire now? That would not change.
I am a member of a Meeker family that has had four generations go through Meeker Elementary School. It is just a building. One that is not self-sustaining at this point.
I, as a taxpayer, do not want to keep paying taxes for a building that cannot sustain itself.
A community center really? Since the early ’70s Meeker has had the Fairfield Community Center. Obviously in the past, it was not self-sustaining. The Fairfield Community Center committee gave the building to the Town of Meeker because it couldn’t afford to operate it and then the Town of Meeker gave the building to the county because the town was having the same problem. How often does the community use the large hall?
Having seen the payments come through the finance office, I would venture a guess of 30 to 40 times a year and that is out of 365 days a year. Those uses are not always weekends, so it is not 30 to 40 times out of 52 opportunities. In addition to the large hall, the Fairfield Center has several smaller rooms available to the community.
The last thing Meeker needs is another “community center.” Available in Meeker right now for the community to use for different functions are 17 buildings/rooms: Kilowatt Korner; the community room at Mountain Valley Bank; the conference room at First National Bank of the Rockies; the 4-H Community Center at the fairgrounds; two exhibit halls at the fairgrounds; a community/meeting room at the Meeker Recreation Center; the high school cafeteria; the high school gymnasium; the high school alternate gymnasium; the middle school gymnasium; the middle school lobby; the new elementary school gymnasium; the new elementary school lobby; the school administrative building gymnasium; and the school administrative building board room.
I personally have attended functions in every one of these spaces. They are available, maybe not all to meet your personal schedule, but if you check around you will find one that will meet your need. I know. I have done it.
Lastly, one should take a look at the “old plans” for “the Justice Center.” Talk about a beautiful building that would add something to the downtown area! The plan was to reuse as much as possible of the old elementary school rock block. The plan also included community restrooms that would be accessible to the public and visitors without having to go into the main part of the building, especially nice when we have things going on downtown like the concerts, sheepdog trials and the Fourth of July Range Call events.
This would be much nicer looking than those Port-a-Potties that are hauled in for the downtown events. It would also be really nice if you are taking a walk around town and need to use the restroom, but you are eight blocks from home.
We all know that the downtown area “rolls up the sidewalks” and there is nothing available except the cafe after 6 p.m. Not fair to the cafe to provide restroom facilities for a non-paying patron.
The green space (lawn area) in the front of the courthouse was to be continued in front of “the Justice Center” (much like it is now) making more space available for those downtown events.
All I’m saying is check out the facts. Don’t go up in arms about some rumor you have heard.
Cathie Dolan
Meeker