Beginning in 2017, Mountain Recreation set out to understand how we could better serve you and those in our community we have not yet reached. Through numerous polls, open house events, and even over coffee (OK, cocoa for some of us!) we’ve asked what we need to do to ensure there are opportunities, healthy, active, for every age group, every season and to be together .
Thanks to your feedback, we’ve reformulated our strategic plan, invested in our people, prioritized partnerships and, with a little courage, stepped out of our comfort zone. As a result, we’ve seen our community connect in new ways.
We have added outdoor recreation programs, expanded summer camp offerings, renovated indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, added fitness equipment, kept facilities and programs open and operating as safely as possible during a pandemic, operated an annual outdoor ice rink in Edwards and with the Offer Begun Special events like the Chapuzón Latino and the Edwards Outdoor Movie Series have legally changed our special district’s name and, yes, put All Access Rec on the ballot twice.
We have a lot to celebrate, but there are also some challenges we face today and I personally prefer to be transparent about them. Here’s how we address the short- and long-term challenges we face:
We have prepared to get started in anticipation of the very real facility needs that the district faces – regardless of the outcome of the May election. While the May request already included scaled-down improvements to focus on immediate needs, the district must now prioritize further to address the most pressing and unavoidable needs. The cost of maintaining what we currently operate determines what remaining funds are available for other improvements or expansions.
Having lived and breathed Mountain Rec for the past five years I can tell you that there is sufficient funding within our existing levies to maintain the facilities as they are and no, the current levy is not sufficient to to make major improvements. Extensions or renovations to help us serve you better. Large capital replacement projects such as the Gypsum Rec Center HVAC and roof or the Eagle Pool plastering project are on our radar and available for funding. However, underground issuance with the Eagle Pool goes beyond what was planned in the capital replacement fund. We engage the services of professional water sports providers to work with the City of Eagle to determine the need for repair or replacement.
I am pleased to report that our full-time staff has grown (though not quite equally) in line with our community’s significantly increased demand for youth and adult programming and access to facilities. As we prepare for summer, we have fewer part-time applications compared to previous years, but we are still on track to meet our summer program needs.
As with many recreational agencies across the country, the disruption to lifeguard training and certification during the pandemic has drastically reduced the pool of certified lifeguards that are available. Market wage increases are recruitment challenges for summer camp counselors and outdoor rec staff. We implement recruitment incentives to increase our chances of finding you the best team members and to ensure service requirements are met. You’ll likely see a reduction in pool hours and a combination of camp offerings where staff support is less this summer.
We have worked hard for a number of years to instill a sense of hospitality for all at the facilities and programs operated by Mountain Rec. We’ve improved our Spanish language reach, we’ve added adaptive supports for people with disabilities, and we’ve become more aware of the social constructs seen nationally and in our valley.
We’ve had a lot of positive and some negative feedback on Pride flags, the use of pronouns, and support for everyone’s right to a healthy and happy life. That doesn’t stop us from working to make everyone who walks through our doors feel like they belong. We have a responsibility to meet community members where they are, try to understand their lived experiences and provide leisure services for all.
What’s next? We will continue to solicit your input into the Services and Programs to make additions and changes that meet your needs. We will continue to seek partners and private funding to make progress in delivering the year-round, broader community centers you desire. We invite you to join us as you are so that we can all stay healthy, active and together in this amazing community!
Janet Bartnik is Managing Director of Mountain Recreation. Contact them at [email protected]