John Vandelinder

Photo by John Vandelinder

John Vandelinder

John Vandelinder: Soccer fields?

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John Vandelinder

John Vandelinder's columns appear Tuesdays and Fridays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail him at jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the mechanics of funding new sports fields, but from a sports fan's outside view, something appears wrong.

Moffat County received notification that Great Outdoors Colorado will award it a $200,000 grant to build two additional soccer fields, bathrooms and a parking lot at Loudy-Simpson Park.

Can I ask why?

In my opinion, it's not money well spent.

There currently are six - five full and two half-sized practice - fields in Craig.

I drove around and counted.

Three at Woodbury - the field running parallel to Third Avenue is sharp when done up for matches - 1 1/2 on the corner of First Street and Doyan Avenue, a practice field for youths at East Elementary School and the grand-daddy of them all, a sweet field with two sets of 10-row bleachers at Loudy-Simpson.

I commend those who signed the petitions and put in all the hard work during the two years it took to get the grant, but I believe those who want an indoor pool/recreation center outnumber the soccer fans in town.

The soccer program in Moffat County is in disarray.

The high school boys and girls teams haven't had a winning team as far back as I could find, and they don't even have complete coaching staffs as you read this.

But, MCHS produced two state champions in the pool this year, and the Sea Sharks are kicking butt across the Western Slope without worrying the slightest bit about taking names.

One of them already has qualified for the Junior Olympics.

Let's be real.

In Craig's climate, how long is a soccer field playable on?

Four or five months?

There is snow on it most of the year.

An indoor pool can be used all year-round.

Craig residents have one pool to utilize since the one at the high school had to be shut down because it was too expensive to operate year-round.

My solution is simple.

Build a new state-of-the-art recreation facility, kind of like the cool new digs that Meeker recently opened.

Build it at Loudy-Simpson, next to the existing soccer field.

Include stadium seating along the side of the building, adding capacity to the current bleachers.

Create a nice air-conditioned press box inside the building overlooking the field - complete with internet connection, flat-panel TV and leather seats so I can be comfortable.

Inside, construct a sweet 50-meter pool that can be split in half when swim-meets come to town - meets that are long overdue.

Hey, why not throw in a few basketball courts and a tennis court, too?

We don't have an indoor tennis court. It could double as a practice soccer field for the winter.

I understand more seating is needed at some of the existing fields, but have you been to a soccer game in Craig lately?

The handful of fans who attend look awfully comfortable in their lawn chairs.

I know the Craig residents who are part of Senior Swimnastics are in the pool five days a week, every week, as if their lives depended on it - and some do.

Well, not anymore considering their pool - at the American Legion - closed too.

I also know the Boys & Girls Club of Craig takes 20 youths to the pool three days a week while the Club's "Soccer Bill" - a volunteer soccer instructor - is struggling to keep interest in his program.

But, the most obvious evidence that proves the money awarded by the state to spend on "projects that enhance Colorado's parks and recreation options" is being spent in the wrong spot came when I drove through town counting the soccer fields.

Each field I observed was empty of kids.

Not one was seen at the six fields.

So, on the way back to write this, I stopped by the pool at Craig City Park.

It was packed.

John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

Comments

David Carrick 6 years, 5 months ago

When did the pool close down at the American Legion?

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

temperary for a broken heat exchanger should reopen soon. closed about two weeks ago

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freeman 6 years, 5 months ago

I could not agree more. Another soccer field would be redundant. However a rec center would be the ultimate. An indoor pool would benefit more than just the kids on the swim team. I for one would love to be able use it for exercise as I require the water for ease of movement and less joint stress which is one of the groups that used to use the pool at American Legion. They had seniors swim time 2 or 3 days a week and scheduled the different activities fairly. The one problem with the pool at American Legion is the size - its way too small. If the city or county is trying to get a rec center citizen initiative on the ballot to be funded by tax dollars why not utilize funds they already have coming. Mr. Vandelinder's suggestions are, as far as I can see, right on the money. I believe the local government should take the communities vote before breaking ground. I think majority will agree with a rec center.

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

if we were given 200,000 to spend on the areas parks and recreation facilities why has nothing been done at elkhead except a few signs saying future site of a campground or future sight of a swim beach? once again this goes back to the fact that the city will not maintain what it has. A hospital that will end up costing us 50 million? 200,000 wouldn't even get a piece of equipment on the land to start digging a foundation for a rec. center.

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grannyrett 6 years, 5 months ago

freeman--Let's just go hypothetical here: They build a new rec center. It cost $500 to join and $150 a month for dues. Can you afford to use it? Do you expect the county to keep it in good shape? They just said that the repairs needed at the wave pool weren't critical. Does it have to cave in before it becomes critical? If you buy your child a car, he leaves it in the middle of the railroad tracks and it gets hit by a train, do you rush out and buy him a new one? The county built the high school with a pool. They shut it down because they can't afford the maintenance on it. How the heck can they even think of building a rec center when they don't take care of anything in this county? Drive on any gravel county road around here. Is it maintained very well? The ones I have been on aren't. If was only a few years ago they shut down the tv transmitter because they couldn't afford the upkeep. Then, if you wanted tv, you had to go cable or satellite. You expect them to take care of anything? By their own words, they have said they don't do anything until it's critical. Good gosh, doesn't that tell you something?

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dogfan 6 years, 5 months ago

Think there is better things to do with the money than build more soccer fields. What ever happened to the idea of a new building at the fairgrounds. They had drawings and wanted everybody to vote at the fair a few years ago, then that was the last we heard about it. I agree we need a rec center more than we need more soccer fields.

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freeman 6 years, 5 months ago

i new you guys would agree with me,but moneys pute into elkhead as 50cal said is a better idea.

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

dogfan i've got a simple answer for you. this is city money and the fairgrounds is county. This is another issue where John has missed the bus. Loudy simpson is county the city is trying for the new rec center. I don't know for sure where the current crop of commissioners stand but I will tuesday.

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John Vandelinder 6 years, 5 months ago

Hey 50 - the idea is that the county should use the money awarded by the state to "spend on projects that enhance Colorado's parks and recreation options." Meaning - build the rec center in Loudy-Simpson so it is part of the State grant money, not City money. No tax increase for residents if the money comes in a grant form, like the soccer fields.

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

but again the 200,000 thousand isn't a drop in the bucket for the total price. this would be millions, hospital millions. I don't believe we would get grants for that kind of money. City is the one that is wanting to build a rec. center, county wasn't talking about it the last I heard.

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grannyrett 6 years, 5 months ago

How many people used the Shadow Mountain clubhouse when it was owned by the county? Not many. How many show up there now that it is owned by the American Legion? Not many. If you want to do something, why not talk about getting grants to put a cover over the swimming pools? Then you could use them year round. Saw one when visiting daughter in Wy. couple of weeks ago.

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John Vandelinder 6 years, 5 months ago

Granny - that is a really good idea. It almost seems too obvious. I have no idea how much any, or all, of this would cost. Talking to members of the Senior Swimnastics class opened my eyes to how important an indoor pool is. Not to mention the swimmers I have covered at the state championships. This whole thing is probably way bigger than I could ever imagine. I just spent the afternoon at the pool, where more than 200 people had no problem spending four bucks for an afternoon of fun in the water. Nobody has contacted me about soccer...it's all swimming. If I can do anything to help those who love sports - in any form - I'll try.

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

alright John lets do something then: the existing pools could be covered a boiler put in and the building added on to for more activities. sorry about the confusion over who had the money, I wasn't aware the county had gotten this grant.

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John Vandelinder 6 years, 5 months ago

50- sounds like a good idea...by the way, I have one of I. P. Freeley's books: Rusty Bedsprings. Think I should lend it to Redneckgirl?

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

yes please I've been trying to improve her reading material.

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redneckgirl 6 years, 5 months ago

Oh...thanks, you guys are so nice. I have great reading material, especially at work.

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grannyrett 6 years, 5 months ago

50 cal-Just found the book "Flood Waters" by I.P. Freeley. Maybe I should loan it to redneckgirl.

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redneckgirl 6 years, 5 months ago

I guess I have a lot of books to read. Maybe you should start a library.....I heard there might be a county employee that will need a job. Librarian might suit her a little better.

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redneckgirl 6 years, 5 months ago

oh..i almost forgot, I haven't quite read that very first book all the way through yet. Once I get a good grasp on that material then I'll be happy to take the other books.

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redneckgirl 6 years, 5 months ago

You're right...that was kind of a mean comment towards the county drug dealer/worker. I shouldn't be so abrasive. Or were you meaning "ouch" towards something else?

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

I don't even know where to go with that. for once you got me, I surrender.

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moconative 6 years, 5 months ago

First of all, I have to agree with you in theory. All these ideas are great and it would be awesome to see all these facilities get upgrades and to get a new rec center. The problems are several and I'll tell you where they lie.

Problem 1: The $200,000 received by the county was not for parks in general, it was specifically a proposal for Soccer Fields at Loudy Simpson. Contrary to Mr. Vandelinder's opinion, soccer numbers have increased and even though the County does not run a soccer program, different soccer programs use the one regulation size field that the County does have. The high school boys use the team for home meets and has had to cancel some because the field was unavailable - meaning someone else was using it. The girls team use it when they can but because of heavy use in the fall, it is usually getting re-seeded in the spring. The soccer program at the school has only been around since the mid 1990's and they have to travel to Loudy to practice. This is a hardship on the kids, but the kids that do it are dedicated. Just because they haven't won, doesn't mean we shouldn't supply them with a decent place to play. If you look at the grant application the county wrote (this is public information), there are letters from the high school, Yampa Valley Soccer club, Craig Youth Soccer (not affiliated with the City) and The City Parks all wrote letters telling about the difficulties in finding space between all the clubs. The City has their own program and works with the schedules of Craig Youth Soccer, but usually by the time Craig Youth Soccer is playing, the City Soccer Fields at Woodburry are turned into Doak Walker Football Fields. During the summer, the Loudy Field is constantly in use. During week nights for practice and weekends for tournaments, so I'm not quite sure when Mr. Vandelinder went to Loudy Simpson, but it probably wasn't at night or on a weekend. The City Soccer is also in the evenings and has just started their summer program. So, do research before you spout off your opinion. The County also held public meetings getting input. If you didn't show up to give your opion - whether for or against, you shouldn't wait until the money is distributed to tell where you want it to go. I was at the meetings and I have done research. Moffat County is puting out very little cash on this project and working with Trapper Mine to do all the dirt work. Several Volunteers are helping to put this all together. If there were more than one soccer field at Loudy Simpson, these soccer clubs would be able to hold actual soccer tournaments with people coming to Craig from all over the state bringing the City and County revenue. This will be continued in my next post.

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moconative 6 years, 5 months ago

Continuation...

Problem 2: The city and county are 2 different entities and funding for these two entities are totally seperate. Loudy Simpson is a County owned facility. So, the city puting the rec center on County property probably isn't going to happen. Elkhead is owned by the City, so the County cannot apply for a grant to fix that. Elkhead was funded by GOCO though. The reason you haven't seen the new camp site is that this grant is funded in phases over several years. The maximum amount you can receive for a given year was received and when the next year comes along and more money is given to the city, then more work will be done. It would be nice if the world didn't work like this and we didn't have to wait or jump through hoops, but that's the way it is.

Problem 3: The funding from GOCO - the grant the County received - does not do buildings. It has to be outdoor related, so any funding like this cannot be used for an indoor pool. However, the City is working on a DOLA grant to help with funding the rec center.

Grant writing and government budgeting are both very hard and unrespected jobs. These people work hours on end to provide this City and County with services and facilities. You can't make everyone happy all of the time and that's a given to the people who have these jobs. But thank you for doing them.

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

I think jonh was trying to say that the city and county should work together on a rec. center. I will agree that this grant money is for the county and there was some confusion about who had it at first that was cleared up. I was talking about the city and elkhead when I thought the city had the grant. as for that not one improvement was made last year after it was opened and I've been out several times this year and there is no activity on any of the future sites happening yet .

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wolfshadoww 6 years, 5 months ago

I've been following this a little bit through articles and the commenting- we have a nice rec center in Rangely that was built during the boom of the late 80's and now it is falling apart so we are having to find money to rebuild. It is one of the best things this community has and a lot of people take pride in it. It doesn't cost an annual fee. It doesn't cost a lot to go up and go for a swim, use the RB courts, weight room, cardio room or any of that. Before Meeker got their new rec center, they drove the hour to come and use ours. We've had marching band camps that stay at CNCC for their practices and go down and use the center for fun time. It's one of the few things our little town has that can help keep the kids out of trouble. A lot of folks, young and old, utilize the facility. I can't think of one bad thing about having it here. I understand that a lot of tax dollars are coming out of Craig resident's pockets for the new hospital and such, but these are things your community deserves and needs!

And as moconative stated- the GOCO grants have to go in phases--I don't agree with it either, but be grateful the county even received one... for some reason they have a hard time parting with that money on the western slope of our state.

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

yeah but rangley? where the hell is rangley? anyone ever heard of that place?

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grannyrett 6 years, 5 months ago

Their rec center is falling apart. Sounds like things in Moffat County.

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wolfshadoww 6 years, 5 months ago

No one's heard of this place because it's even further west and away from Denver. We're still part of the western slope. It's 90 miles southwest of you if you weren't being sarcastic.

I travel to Craig quite a bit in the winter time. :)

Our rec center is being rebuilt thanks to the voters on a bond issue.

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50cal 6 years, 5 months ago

I know I used to drive through rangley every day> just thought i'd get ya once.

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