Wherefore art thou, Romeo? | SkyHiNews.com

Wherefore art thou, Romeo?

Ted Wang

A succession of high school and college English teachers lectured me against the mixing of metaphors, but the current ballot initiative by the Fraser Valley Recreation District and the long-time efforts of the Town of Granby to secure land for a recreation center remind me of a mythic tale of a Romeo “torn between two lovers.”

Wherefore should Romeo put down roots and find true happiness?

It’s been a long-held dream for many in east Grand County to have a fully equipped recreation center for use by residents and visitors alike. There’s no dispute regarding the benefits to individual health and well-being, to a sense of community, and for a center for area youth (and young at heart) to burn off excess energy. Recent ads in the Sky-Hi Daily News articulate those benefits very well.

Over the years, efforts to fund a center in the Winter Park-Fraser end of the valley have failed to gain voter support. A recent feasibility study for a multi-use events center which might have included recreational facilities located near Granby showed that such a project was economically not possible. During this same period, the Town of Granby embarked on a series of large annexations, in which land for a center was donated by Granby Ranch, and bond proceeds from new development, including Orvis-Shorefox, were pledged toward eventual construction.

Last year, local middle school students under the supervision of teacher Abby Loberg studied recreation centers in western Colorado and gave a truly professional and thoughtful presentation of what a center should contain and where it should be located. The students’ enthusiasm and the quality of their research was inspiring.

Granby Trustees were also visiting West Slope recreation centers to gather information.

Over the years, some of us have wondered why a coalition of the Grand Lake and Fraser Valley Recreation Districts and the Town of Granby, which funds its own recreation programs through the town budget, couldn’t combine resources to solve some of the financial challenges of a center. Every time the idea was brought up, it was shot down for one reason or another. It seemed that “turf war” mentality was insurmountable.

When Ms. Loberg’s students made their presentation and firmly stated that they felt the best location for the center, for geographic reasons, was in Granby, it took but a moment for the representatives of the Fraser Valley district to hurl cold water on the idea. When I made a plea for some discussion of forming a unified district, the Fraser Valley reply was that they already had plans, were going to go ahead with the current ballot question, and that they weren’t interested in considering a location north of Red Dirt Hill.

Hopes that there might be an end to parochial interests vanished in an instant, although it was very encouraging that Grand Lake was interested in discussing the idea.

On a wide range of topics, it’s been shown that working cooperatively on a regional basis is a powerful tool for getting things done. A coalition or the formation of a district that encompasses the towns, recreation districts and departments, and the entire East Grand County community could generate far more funding at less cost per household than what will result from the existing ballot question.

If the recreation center is primarily intended for the residents and property owners of this area, and not as a taxpayer subsidized amenity for Winter Park Resort, Granby has the geographical advantage over any other location. The middle and high schools are here, making after-school activities easier. Land has been set aside and will be deeded to the town shortly after the first of the year, and Granby Ranch is providing additional room for outdoor playing fields above and beyond the space necessary for the indoor facility.

This summer saw the dedication of Raffety Park, a cooperative venture between the Town, the East Grand School District, and the Youth Soccer Association. This fall should see construction of tennis courts and the indoor soccer facility. There is room for outside soccer fields, and an ice hockey group is exploring the possibility of a rink at that location.

I bring this up not to proclaim Granby as the “athletic center of the county,” but to illustrate the town’s willingness to work in a collaborative fashion, with multiple groups, to realize dreams that benefit all of us and to illustrate the results which are possible from these alliances.

A real estate and business mantra is “Location, Location, Location.” In Granby, a recreation center would enjoy the central location in the east side of Grand County. In Granby, there’s a willingness to work together toward the goal of having such a facility at long last.

Those voting on the ballot question should take pause and consider the strengths of a more regional approach to a recreation center. It’s time for a change and a wider view. Romeo should find his Juliet in Granby.

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