Recreation district reorganizes

MEEKER I A public meeting was held Monday evening to discuss the survey results and phase two of the Eastern Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District’s master plan. There were approximately 15 people in attendance to hear representatives discuss the results and immediate plans for the district.
The first meeting was held in January to discuss the needs of the community and gather input from taxpayers as to the future of the recreation district. A survey was then mailed out to 1,594 people with 230 completed surveys, or 14.4 percent, coming back. The return result was said to be normal for this type of survey.
The survey revealed that the public is satisfied overall with the communication and general recreation district as a whole and wants to maintain what they have. They showed an interest in upgrading local tennis courts and the option of expanding the indoor facilities but realize this is a project that would take a great deal of money.
The district has taken over the maintenance and upgrade of the local parks and plans improvements for City Park and Paintbrush Park with an “optimistic” completion date of fall 2012. The trail system in the Phil and Dorcas Jensen park is expected to be complete May 16, 2012. The system will have a gravity-feed mountain biking upper trail and a lower trail for hikers or bikers that is nearly complete now.
The survey revealed a desire for a full trail system around the town. Improvements to City Park will feature a river walk trail that will go around the entire park and potentially connect to a town trail system. Other improvements include moving and upgrading the current playground and upgrading existing bathrooms and facilities. A full basketball court will be constructed and the current volleyball court made functional for the community. The park will include a new entrance with a concrete trail and a riparian theme throughout the park. The trail around the park will include picnic areas and interpretive signs for all public use.
The plans for Paintbrush Park include new playground equipment with two playgrounds for different ages. It will include a climbing facility and natural play area for the kids designed around the “paintbrush” theme. The plans include adding shade and shelter, along with full-time public restroom accessibility.
The district seems to be moving forward with the results of the survey and construction is underway or planned for the very near future. The money for these projects are in place without additional requests for funds and the master plan will include a timeline for further renovation of parks.
Tuesday night, the recreation district board met to discuss the master plan and survey and board members were pleased with the findings. They are excited about the changes ahead and hope to provide the best service possible to the taxpayers. The board also discussed a re-organization of the current management system and better defining the roles of employees. A pyramid copied from Illinois Recreation Districts and used nationally is the blueprint used. The pyramid puts ERBM district residents at the top of the pyramid, followed by the executive director, four managers in the areas of administrative services, aquatics, recreation and maintenance. Below the four managers are human resources, marketing and guest services under the administrative service manager. The aquatics coordinator under the aquatics manager. Recreation supervisors under the recreation manager, and housekeeping and parks under the maintenance manager. Below each of these are the human resources generalist, part-time advertising people, finance administrator, lifeguards, instructors, and swim team coach, gym supervisors, housekeepers, maintenance technicians and park laborers. Overall it amounts to 20 full-time employees, four part-time employees with benefits, 10 part-time employees and two seasonal individuals. The new system is believed to cut expenses in the big picture and clarify responsibilities of employees. Questions were raised about the recent resignation of two employees and cuts in programs with the answer that ultimately only the pool hours will be cut and staffing is always a forefront issue. The hope of the district is to hire the best people for the openings, according to executive director Mike Weinbrecht, who said “We want to offer quality programs and safety is a priority.”
The board plans to post available jobs immediately and staff is interviewing several applicants for lifeguard positions to maintain very realistic pool hours. Board members expressed appreciation for public input. Plans to move forward with the survey results and master plan are underway. The district’s summer guide was just released Monday showing the programs available. Information regarding the master plan can be obtained at guest services. There will be a meeting in July to finalize the master plan and public input is essential for final results.