Grand Lake recreation shakeup: District’s coordinator position eliminated | SkyHiNews.com

Grand Lake recreation shakeup: District’s coordinator position eliminated

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News

In a controversial split vote, the position held by Becky McBride of the Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District was eliminated at the most recent district board meeting.

McBride was employed with the district for 14 years, first as its recreation director then as recreation district coordinator. The Grand Lake resident is still coming to terms with the decision.

She chokes up as she tried to get the words out.

“Whenever I think about the kids I get emotional,” she said. “That has been my main focus, all the years I’ve been here … the kids of Grand Lake. The district has gone through tough times here, cutting back, cutting and cutting back. I just don’t want recreation for youths forgotten.”

The board decision goes into effect the first of the year, but McBride said she intends to put in her time during the transition to ensure that a plan is in place for the recreation side of the golf and ski district.

“I just hate to see her work her butt off for 15 years and slip out of here with nothing at all,” said district board member Tom Goodfellow, who voted against the decision. “There’s just so much talent with (her).”

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Board member Jeremy Kennell cast the other dissenting vote. John Gould, Tom Jenkins and Tim Thorpe voted in the majority.

The decision surrounded the shaping of the 2008 budget, specifically, a marketing line item.

When the same three board members voted last year to turn over the Youth Theater program to the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater, McBride, who was instrumental in developing the successful youth program in the late 1990s, lost a large portion of her responsibility.

The board had talked about eliminating the recreation district coordinator position last year, but opted not to as it administered a $4 million bond issue and hired a new general manager. McBride stayed on to help with those efforts.

McBride’s job title absorbed in-house marketing responsibilities until after the manager was hired, in addition to coordinating recreation programs.

During this year’s deliberation on the 2008 budget, three board members argued for outsourcing the district’s marketing and have the general manager handle it rather than make it part of McBride’s official duties.

Meanwhile, two board members argued to keep marketing in-house and have McBride’s position cover both it and recreation.

Ultimately, McBride’s full-time position was sacrificed by one vote.

“I understand it’s a financial thing,” said Bill Winfield, the district’s general manager, who is also a certified golf pro. “It’s always difficult, with the elimination of any position, it means there is the elimination of a person. Relationships are built, and that is hard to overcome.”

“McBride has done a lot of things over the years,” Gould said “It sounds trite, but it was nothing personal, she did everything she was asked. She was a wonderful employee.

“But in looking at this budget on how to best spend the tax dollars, we decided to outsource the marketing and get what I believe is a better product for less money,” he explained.

The recreation district will save about $35,000 in 2008 by outsourcing the marketing and restructuring McBride’s position, he said.

For its marketing in 2008, which the district is ratcheting up in light of more golf courses in Granby, the board budgeted $52,000, a little less than twice what it spent last year.

But according to Goodfellow, the marketing plan McBride presented to board members was much better than what was proposed by an outside marketing firm, which offered more of an “advertising” plan, he said.

“To me, there was not even a comparison,” he said. The value of her experience at a time when the district faces future competition is more valuable than cutting corners on a marketing strategy, he added.

Although McBride’s position has been eliminated, Gould stressed that the general recreation side of operations are not being sacrificed, that a possible part-time position is being created to fulfill general recreation duties.

Those duties include continuing existing kids’ programs and eventually expanding them. The board approved the general recreation budget in accordance with McBride’s exact recommendations, he said.

The $4 million bond issue was passed specifically for tree management projects (with a conservative estimate of about 100,000 diseased trees removed from the property) and a new irrigation system for the golf course.

For overall district operations in 2007, the district anticipates a loss of $88,800, which the board had seen coming, according to Winfield.

District reserves from last year have carried the budget into 2008.

“We are keeping the kids’ programs,” said Winfield. The district aims to “reintroduce offerings available for adults and seniors. We’re striving to go forward, but have to be cognizant of where we are now. Financially, we have to be aware that we’re just above the break-even point.

McBride, who says she has “irons in the fire, but nothing definite” for future employment, plans to make herself available to help out the district where she can.

She is most proud of the Youth Theater program, the seed of which was planted and nourished under her tutelage.

The idea was originally brainstormed by McBride, Judith Warren (formerly of the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater) and Kennel.

“That program, out of everything we’ve done here, has given kids opportunities to grow in ways I never would have known,” McBride said. “You really see the benefits for the kids. It’s a confidence builder for them, and kids who have learning disabilities improve in school because of that program.

“It has helped with reading in schools, because kids read and learn their lines, as well as presence in the classroom,” she added. “Plus, the singing and dancing the students learn, and the camaraderie and friendships they gain, and the healthy relationships they build with adults.”

McBride also implemented the after-school programs and a ski program to Winter Park before transportation was discontinued by the resort. She is also credited for running the district’s summer day camp program, deemed “one of the best programs in the county.”

“From people I talk to like second homeowners, they feel the program superior to anything their kids could have experienced elsewhere in Colorado,” she said. “I’ve loved my job here, and I want to continue to see the district succeed.”

McBride cautioned the non-golfing public to keep tabs on their recreation district.

“We don’t have very many people coming to meetings. I don’t think people know how much the recreation side of the district is in jeopardy,” she said. “We’ve gone back to golf, golf, golf, and that’s the biggest concern about me leaving.”

McBride plans to stay in the Grand Lake area where her grandchildren and parents live.

Her sadness overwhelmed her as she contemplated “parting words,” about to step down from her district post.

“I don’t’ know if I can say it and not be emotional,” she said.

After a moment, she continued.

“This place has been my life for 14 years. I’ve loved every minute of it, save for the politics. I love this town, I love the community and I love the kids. Especially the kids, that’s what I’ll miss the most.”

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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