Our View: Playing a bigger role in recreation
May 20, 2014
There's a renewed energy among members of the city of Steamboat Springs' Parks and Recreation Commission, and we like what we see.
The seven-member commission, which includes two new members appointed last month, recently voiced its interest in becoming more involved in "bigger-picture" issues and more active in making recommendations to the Steamboat Springs City Council.
These overtures have been welcomed by John Overstreet, the city's director of parks, open space and recreation, who seems receptive to the commission's wishes for increased involvement in deciding how the city manages its park system and allocates money toward park projects.
Some of the issues facing the commission include discussion about the expansion of recreational uses in Rita Valentine Park, a master plan for Howelsen Hill and the possibility of exploring new ways to fund the city's large list of recreational amenities that are expensive to maintain. At some point, the commission may be asked to take another look at the viability of placing a tax proposal before voters to raise money to fund operations and maintenance of city parks and recreational facilities — a measure that hasn't been seriously considered in more than a decade.
In her interview for another term on the commission, Kara Givnish talked about the need for the group to focus on "higher-level" visioning rather than weighing in on issues pertaining to day-to-day park operations. We agree with Givnish's view of what the commission's role should be and think these volunteer boards work best when they are tasked with providing overall direction rather than being bogged down with operational decisions that can be handled by a very capable parks and recreation staff.
The official vision statement for the Parks and Recreation Commission is "to actively pursue through collaboration with the City Council the development and maintenance of world class parks, open space, facilities and recreational programming." This vision is broad, and the goals of the current Parks and Recreation Commission will be further defined by the will of its current members and the willingness of the City Council to accept input from those serving on the commission.
According to City Manager Deb Hinsvark, the Parks and Recreation Commission was created by ordinance and functions in an advisory role. The commission is tasked with a variety of responsibilities, including, but not limited to, advising the council about park programming, considering budget items during the budget preparation process, recommending acquisitions of park property and soliciting public input on anything related to parks and recreation.
It appears the commission is up to the task, but ultimately, any recommendations made by the commission are subject to City Council approval.
It's impressive to see volunteer commissioners wanting to take on meatier assignments, and it's encouraging that city leaders are embracing more involvement from community members.
The next step falls to members of the City Council who will decide whether to listen the Parks and Recreation Commission and act upon its recommendations. We hope the group's input is well received and that the council gives the commission's input fair weight when making decisions about the future of the city's parks and recreational offerings.
With the city's parks and recreation operations budget totaling $4.5 million, it's important the council receives direction from the community and give the Parks and Recreation Commission influence in the decision-making process. After all, the commission is composed of qualified professionals who willingly give of their time to serve the city, and their voices deserve to be heard.