Fraser Rec center ‘controversy’ doesn’t exist except on pages of newspaper |

Fraser Rec center ‘controversy’ doesn’t exist except on pages of newspaper

To the Editor:

This letter addresses both the content and thrust of the story by Will Bublitz (page A11) and the editorial “cartoon” (page A6) of the July 10 Middle Park Times.

We are told again about “controversy over the proposed recreation center” and that now we have accusations of “conflict of interest” affecting board members’ decisions regarding the rec center. We’re also told this controversy includes the election itself, which resulted in voter approval of the Rec Center. In that election, “mail-in ballots and accusations of voter fraud” were noted as contributing to the Rec Center controversy as was the delay in FVMRD receiving the deed to the “donated land,” whose name is still being negotiated, and to a possible hotel to be built adjacent to the Rec Center “whose guests would be granted access to the Rec Center.”

Reading this slanted presentation as news, one probably comes to the conclusion that “where there is this much smoke, there has to be a fire.” Taking these issues along with the editorial cartoon that implies the Pole Creek operation follows the “controversy,” and my goodness, we have even “more smoke” here.

I submit the “controversy,” per se, is totally uncalled for. The election validity was challenged by a frivolous lawsuit that was thrown out by the court. The conclusion: The election was/is valid. Raising this as a valid and current “controversy” is irresponsible on the part of the paper.

The FVMRD receiving deed to the donated property is under negotiation by the District and Grand Park. Ill-timed and incomplete “reporting” of selected and “passionate” issues related to these negotiations can and will result in slanted public opinion, and that will hinder these negotiations and absolutely delay delivery of the deed.

As for the proposed Marriott whose guests would be granted access to the rec center, the hotel’s location, if it appears at all, is a matter that falls under the purview of Grand Park and the town of Fraser. The FVMRD has no say in the matter. The side issue of use of the rec center by the hotel’s guests begs the larger and more accurate issue that the hotel/guests would be expected to pay their way in center usage. In my estimation, if this happens at all, it is the ultimate in symbiotic arrangements. Without income from the proposed hotel and most other “outsider usage,” the financial plan for cost recovery from fees charged for center usage was 68 percent. That means that the 32 percent differential is to come from taxpayers.

Strongly related here is the approved and accepted FVMRD mission statement: “Our mission is to provide recreation activities and facilities that contribute to a higher quality of life for citizens and guests of our valley.” Note the symbiotic relationship here. Guests are accommodated nicely and the individual usage cost to the taxpayer drops.

I’d say that should this hotel come to pass, the taxpayers will be well served by Rec Board planning. I think it would’ve been more responsible on the paper’s part to include this District planning rationale in their article. Raising this as a “controversy” identifies the paper’s story as being fueled by rumor and innuendo.

As regards Board member conflicts of interest, specifically Beth Sands and her relationship with Grand Park: It is a matter of public record that Beth Sands announced that she had taken a position with Grand Park and that she was recusing herself from all Board votes affecting the District and Grand Park.

I’ve been at every board meeting since her announcement last fall and she has fully complied with her statement throughout. By the way, taking a position on the Board requires that members review their personal standings and sign status statements as required by law. This implied besmirching of the reputation of a board member is uncalled for.

It should be noted that each and every time the District has to obtain legal representation as in this issue, it incurs an expenditure of funds that are outside the “balanced, zero-based budget” that was submitted to the electorate and State. This legal “frivolity” costs us taxpayers.

Finally, referring to the political cartoon; the artist/author did nothing to bring attention to any facts relating to present Pole Creek operations or forthcoming and ongoing projects.

Over 4 years ago the FVMRD Board took Pole Creek operations off the taxpayers’ dole and put it on a pay as you go basis with a zero-based budget. By the way, until serious golf competition came to our vicinity, Pole Creek was the de-facto “cash cow” for the rest of the Rec District, underwrote “scholarships” for the underprivileged amongst us, and attracted destination and event tourists to our community. I’d say Pole Creek helped “put groceries on the tables” of many of us locals in the tourism industry. Its creation was certainly supported by the towns locally.

Please, for the sake of responsible news reporting and even fair editorializing, let’s stick with reporting facts and not appealing to sensationalism in your publication. We all depend upon you to report responsibly. I think the paper is fanning the flame of “controversy” where there should be none.

Howard Venezia

Winter Park