Council approves slight increase to parks budget

Teen skate park, city pool get lots of attention

City officials say the passage of Amendment 21 could result in across-the-board cuts to all departments, particularly parks and recreation, but officials decided on a "we'll cross that bridge when we get there attitude," and preliminarily approved a $785,495 parks and recreation department operations budget and a $369,300 capital projects budget.

Final approval won't come until later this month.

City Manager Jim Ferree asked that all department heads hold their operations budgets to zero growth because officials project a two percent reduction in revenues in 2001.

The parks and recreation department budget grew 2.15 percent because of an increase in personnel costs and an increase in funding for special events.

Though offset by the general fund, the parks and recreation department has some revenue of its own from fees and grants. Though some fees pay for certain programs, particularly adult sports, revenue collected doesn't cover the needs of the department especially in terms of the city pool.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Pike estimates the city lost $106,000 on the city pool.

"You just can't charge enough to make it work," Pike said. "You're probably going to lose money on all pool complexes. We've probably raised rates as high as we can go without adding another amenity."

Though a big loss, Council members supported continued funding of the facility.

"I don't mind eating it on the pool, because I think our kids really, really need it, but if we could find another way to raise funds, I think it would be good," Councilor Natalie Alden said.

The department will see a 44 percent increase over last year's budget in capital projects and for that, residents will see improvements to area parks and trails.

One investment that area teens have worked to see is in equipment for the East Park skate park.

More than 30 Craig teens attended a parks and recreation department meeting on improving the skate park. They met with a skate park consultant and considered options.

It is Pike's goal to invest about $70,000 into amenities such as ramps and jumps for the park, but he only requested $25,000 in the 2001 budget. He hopes to get a grant to pay for the rest. If not, he said, the park will be upgraded in phases.

"I think $70,000 worth of fixtures up there will be really nice," Pike said.

Pike plans to invest in small, mobile equipment that can be placed in a covered structure at the Moffat County Fairgrounds during the winter, giving teens a place to skate year-round. Some larger fixtures will be purchased, but not until next spring.

Upgrades to the North Park playground, located on the corner of Yampa Avenue and Twelfth Street, have been set as a priority in the 2001 project after being delayed in 2000. The Council approved a $22,000 expenditure for equipment upgrades. Again, Pike hopes to get a grant to bolster that amount.

Other projects residents could see completed this year include a trail from Ridgeview Subdivision to Finley Lane, and new showers and floors at the city pool.

Other capital projects funds will be spent to upgrade equipment, purchase vehicles and on maintenance projects.

Basketball court resurfacing at Heier Park, additional pathway paving at City Park, and digital cameras were projects or items that were cut to help balance the budget.

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