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Community Center Would Be A Great Asset To Our Town

To The Editor:

There are many aspects of the proposed EVRPD’s community center that led the Board of Education to agree to lease school district property to the Estes Valley Parks and Recreation District in the event of a successful election in November.

From an education perspective, having a year-round recreational facility next to our schools for after-school programming would fill a gap in services for the community’s children. Today, due to the working household trends, many students go home after school without access to constructive activities, and supervision is an issue for many families. Similarly, the location of child care adjacent to the schools is a parent’s dream. The prospect of having an appropriately designed space for pre-school and toddler programming next to our schools is important to many of our families. Too often students are not prepared for kindergarten because they have not had the benefit of a quality pre-school and/or toddler program.

As superintendent of schools, I can attest to the difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers and other staff in our community. We now have modern buildings with wonderful teaching/learning facilities and relatively small classes. Yet there are life-style attractions for teachers as well as other staff and their families in surrounding communities, including year-round recreational opportunities and numerous youth activities, which compete with the Estes Valley. A community center with expanded recreational programs for all ages would make our community even more attractive to many teachers, other professionals, and their families.

As a resident of the Estes Valley, with hopes of retiring in this beautiful area one day, I am personally interested in the programming the proposed center may offer to the adult community. Many, like me, would benefit from the opportunity to take classes and participate in adult activities at a well-equipped, centrally located center, especially during the shorter days of the winter months. One can envision taking courses in container gardening, cooking, technology, music, birding, photography, genealogy, and the like. Perhaps ballroom or square dancing, aerobics, bridge club, fly-tying, collecting, scrap-booking or quilting… Numerous clubs could meet in such a center. The possibilities are endless and only dependant on the creativity and interests of the Valley’s residents.

Ballot item 4C includes funds allowing the recreation district to continue their agreement with the school district to operate the Aquatic Center. The school district cannot operate the Aquatic Center for community use without the recreation district as its partner, and I could not, in good conscience, recommend the diversion of funds designated for K-12 education to be used for community recreation. Ballot issue 4D includes many improvements at the Aquatic Center. A number of infrastructural improvements in the Aquatic Center were undertaken by the school district as part of its recent bond passage, and yet there is no doubt that further improvements would enhance the opportunities for school, community, and tourist use alike.

Linda Chapman

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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