Sunday, July 12, 2020

Met Rec board fine tuning strategic plans

Focus, funds, election and tower infrastructure 

by Mark Reaman

The Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District (Met Rec) is continuing to develop its recreation strategic plan for the area and will decide next month how much money to allocate to each of its four focus areas, including Developed Recreation Amenities; Outdoor Recreation; Increased Access to Recreation; and Community Collaboration.

“Our north and south recreation advisory committees have been key in helping craft the focus areas and will also provide input in the funding allocation amounts,” explained Met Rec district manager Hedda Peterson. “The public will also have the opportunity to weigh in on the funding allocation amounts at the March board meeting.”

The Met Rec board decided that the basic reason to develop an official strategic plan is that “the district’s development as a recreation special district, funded by a one mill levy property tax and Colorado Lottery proceeds, makes it a dependable community cornerstone,” the draft plan explains. 

“With a service area that encompasses almost all of Gunnison County, Met Rec harbors the unique ability to facilitate collaborative recreation initiatives across silos and jurisdictional boundaries. Given Gunnison County’s steady population growth and continued value of recreation, this ability fills an important community need that our municipalities cannot achieve independently,” the draft plan reads.

According to the draft strategic plan there is demand for additional developed recreation facilities, such as field space, refrigerated ice and indoor recreation facilities. “In alignment with its strategy, the District will work to provide leadership and coordinate responsible planning and implementation of recreation facilities that require regional support to achieve successful development and sustainable operation,” the plan states. 

The goal is that by this coming July, Met Rec will have developed a process that facilitates the planning for priority, large-scale, developed recreation facilities.

The second focus area is Outdoor Recreation, which will target things like supporting trail maintenance and development, and trailhead infrastructure. The Met Rec plans to continue partnering with the Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) Committee and National Forest Foundation.

In terms of the third focus area, Increase Access to Recreation, “Improved access to recreation was supported by constituents throughout the District’s service area, with particular concern for high program and equipment costs and inadequate transportation to recreation amenities and programs. The District will invest in and support efforts that reduce local barriers faced by youth, elderly and underserved communities in the planning and implementation of recreation programs and amenities.”

And finally, the fourth area of focus is Community Collaboration. “Continued outreach and engagement with recreation stakeholders will provide the District with a comprehensive understanding of community recreation opportunities and further its ability to catalyze and leverage creative partnerships.”

Peterson said the Met Rec is also working on crafting an operations strategic plan that is centered on over-the-air television service. A first draft will be reviewed at the March meeting.

The district also wants to use its tower infrastructure located throughout the region to boost broadband in the county. Peterson said preliminary conversations with both public and private partners about the potential to make the towers more accessible to broadband providers are going on. 

“There will be significant due diligence as a first step to assess which towers can accommodate this type of partnership,” she said. “The concept is well supported by certain tower site lessors, such as the GMUG National Forest, that encourages shared use of existing infrastructure. 

“Another goal of the District’s is to operate our towers more professionally and on a cost-effective basis,” Peterson continued. “Partnerships with other private/public users could help us do this and allow for additional uses on the towers while also providing more reliable infrastructure for the District’s television service.”

And don’t forget the Met Rec has a regular board election coming up. All five board seats will be open this spring, including three three-year terms and two two-year terms. If you are interested in serving on the board, you must submit a self-nomination form to the designated election official by Friday, February 28 (deo@gcmetrec.com). 

So far incumbents Dave Clayton, Ian Billick, Derrick Neherenberg and Cassia Cadenhead have submitted their self-nomination forms. The election is slated for May 5.

The March meeting is scheduled for March 18 and will be held at the District offices in Gunnison.

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