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Having been involved in our town government for 38 years (at the helm for 36 years), I totally disagree with proponents advocating a 45 million dollar indoor recreation center.
Over the years, the town council managed to bring this community to its current form of careful spending — realizing we had a responsibility not to put our town at financial risk by being top-heavy with debt.
Through the planning process we established priorities … paving streets, implementing a quality police department, building bridges, expanding the park system and building a town hall and community center. We also established a downtown river restoration project, therefore creating river features for kayaking and rafting and partnered with local volunteers/contractors who helped expedite the utilization of the river. Through the process we have been able to adhere to responsible fiscal activity.
Subsequently, there are projects that have not been completed — such as the Town-to-Lakes Trail, the downtown riverwalk, the South 6th Street pedestrian bridge as well as completion of sidewalks in some areas of town. These are very important projects that I feel are doable through grants and short-term financing.
Again, in reference to the proposed 45 million dollar project and the 25-year payoff (as a member of the ‘old guard’ as I have been called) I never felt there was, or is, a need to hold the town hostage for such an elitist project considering the outside recreation amenities we are surrounded by. These are natural amenities and there is no cost for their utilization by locals and tourists.
Furthermore, I think it’s irresponsible to not consider what happened when the biggest local government entity went into a negative financial tailspin six years ago due to spending practices.
In conclusion, this is not about bashing indoor recreation centers. I have been to both Durango’s and Cortez’s facilities while attending my grandchildren’s swimming events and could not be more impressed. However, I believe that the voter and taxpayer should consider the pros and cons during these fragile economic times.
Ross Aragon, mayor