Paying to play

City outlines budget for Parks and Recreation Department

Budget cuts mean Craig residents won't see renovations to the wave pool that could provide different wave patterns but they will get new playground equipment at two city parks and additions to the skate park that could lead to recreation programs and locally hosted competitions.

The Craig Parks and Recreation Department is budgeted to spend $883,580 in 2003 for operational costs and nearly $500,000 in capital expenditures for equipment, vehicles and the construction of the Ridgeview Trail.

Ridgeview Trail

The completion of the Ridgeview Trail, the planning of which started in 1998, is what boosted the department's expected capital expenditures 60 percent over last year. The city's contribution to the $402,000 project is budged to be $15,750 with the rest being offset by grants.

The trail will run from the Ridgeview Subdivision to Finley Lane.

The city has received $374,750 in grants from lottery proceeds and the Colorado Department of Transportation and more grant funds are expected.

There are two pieces of property standing between the city and the construction of the trail. A 50-foot easement on one, owned by Arthur Dubs of California, was set to become the property of the city by right of eminent domain. But Dubs said he was willing to sell the property for its appraisal price and all that remains is for him to sign the contract.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Dave Pike is negotiating for another easement and said those negotiations are going well.

Pike expects to send the project out to bid in January with construction beginning in the spring of 2003.

"Once these guys get cracking on it, it will get built a lot faster than I planned," Pike said.

The trail will likely run from Finley Lane along the Craig Ditch to a location near B street, behind the old Country General building, across Moffat County Road 7 and through Colorado Northwestern Community College's expansion site.

The route is not finalized.

Skate park equipment

In a commitment to fulfilling a promise to area teens, Pike budgeted $20,000 for new equipment at the Craig Skate Park, but what that equipment will be is not yet known.

"We'll have to get the committee back together and discuss it," Pike said.

A committee of teens was formed in 2000 to decide what equipment they would like to see at an old tennis court that was turned into the skate park.

In addition to new equipment, the park will get a new surface. Once that's complete, the Parks and Recreation Department will begin skateboard programs, including lessons. Pike said he's also working to get Craig's skate park listed as a stop on the Mountain Madness skateboard competition tour.

"We're going to put a little more effort into the skate park and a little more effort into the programming there," Pike said.

Playground equipment

Pike budgeted $30,000 for playground equipment and safety surfaces, but which park will reap the benefits remains to be seen. The city is currently involved in renovating the North Park playground. Depending on that project's final cost, some of the money budgeted in 2003 might be needed. If not, the money will be spent on new equipment for Higher Park, located northeast of Craig.

There are no concrete plans as to what or when equipment will be placed at that park.

Pike gives potential bidders an overhead site plan and a budget and lets them design the amenities.

"It's hard to bid a playground," Pike said. "Since they're the experts, why should I design the park?"

When the designs are returned, they're ranked according to the number of structures, design, space use

and price.

The process was used for the new equipment at Woodbury and City parks and Pike said community members seem pleased with both.

Miscellaneous

Other parks and recreation capital expenses for 2003 will be three picnic shelters for Woodbury Park, coin-operated lockers for the pool facility and two pickup trucks.

The city's vehicle replacement program calls for the replacement of vehicles when they are 10 years old.

"Every year I have to buy two new pickups," Pike said. "I'd much rather have new playground equipment and water slides and fun stuff than to have pickups."

Pike requested $17,000 for a construction project that would create six to eight different wave patterns at the city's wave pool, but it was one item that was cut before the council's budget workshop in October. The project has been cut two years in a row but Pike feels the city will be able to take on the project next year.

"You've got to pick your battles and that wasn't one of them," he said.

About $75,000 of the Parks and Recreation Department's capital budget comes directly from lottery funds.

"Our capital budget is not nearly the drain on the general fund it is portrayed to be," Pike said.

This year, the department is budgeted to earn $150,285 in revenues from program fees, special events, concessions and pool fees. A majority of that revenue comes from the city pool $89,750 but the facility is also a major drain on the department's operational budget.

Councilor Don Jones estimated the pool costs the city $102,000 after revenues, and commended Pike for bringing that figure down from years past.

"We knew we'd never make ends meet," Jones said.

Last year was a banner year for pool use. Funds from daily fees and punch passes were up more than $10,000 compared to 2001.

The city recovers approximately 50 percent of what it spends on the pool.

"I'd like to see it around 75 percent, but you can't do that without having a few more water amenities," Pike said. "People need to understand they're getting admission to two pools for the price of one."

Special events were again budgeted by the Parks and Recreation Department, including $4,000 for Fourth of July fireworks, $8,500 for Grand Olde West Days, or its equivalent, and $22,000 for the fifth annual Whiddle Da Wood Wandezvous.

During its budget workshop, council members asked to double the department's $15,000 mosquito control budget in light of the spread of West Nile Virus.

The city pays the county for its mosquito control measures and the county pest management department decides how that money will be best spent.

Council members requested that money be used for aerial spraying as opposed to ground treatment.

"I personally would rather see us spend more money on the plane because I think it does a better job," Jones said.

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