Our View: American Legion has a tough job ahead | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: American Legion has a tough job ahead

Generally what the private sector can’t provide in quality of life amenities, government does.

In a year of government cutbacks, it’s refreshing to see the private sector step up to the plate to fill in the gap. And that’s just what the American Legion did when it offered to take over operations of Shadow Mountain Clubhouse.

After the commissioners voted in December to close the facility, American Legion Post 62 in Craig offered to take over the facility, keep it open to the public and use it as its headquarters.

The move will cost the American Legion about $50,000 a year plus the $1 lease.

The county will pay $33,000 in 2006 to cover utility costs at Shadow Mountain, but the county’s portion will decrease every year, going from $33,000 in 2006 to $8,000 in 2009 and nothing in 2010 and beyond.

Eventually, the American Legion’s costs will total nearly $90,000 a year.

We wish the American Legion the best of luck but have concerns about whether a nonprofit organization can do what the county could not.

Post Commander Mel Shockley said the Legion will have to be creative in finding funding sources to keep the facility open, but he thinks they can do it.

We hope they can, because it would be a blow to facility users to again face the threat of losing access.

City Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike will say that it’s nearly impossible to operate a public pool at a profit. And when he looked into taking over Shadow Mountain on behalf of the city, he couldn’t get — in time to meet the deadline — the information needed to determine whether it was even feasible.

There were too many un–answered questions for the city to get involved, Pike said.

And, if he didn’t have the information needed to make a good decision, it’s a good bet that the American Legion didn’t have it when it volunteered to take over.

We expect that county officials reviewed the American Legion’s plan for keeping the facility open and found it feasible.

But, it doesn’t sound as if the American Legion will be doing anything the county could not.

Shockley said the Legion will rent out rooms at Shadow Mountain for parties more often than the county did and will use a portion of the lot for recreational vehicle storage.

The American Legion has a secret weapon. Former Moffat County Planning Director Sue Graler, who is a member of the Legion’s auxiliary club, will create an operating plan for the facility. If anyone can find a way to keep Shadow Mountain open, Graler can.

But that doesn’t change that operating a swimming pool is an expensive endeavor. The county spent $122,822 to keep the facility open in 2002, $109,336 in 2003 and budgeted $94,853 in 2005. Revenues from rentals and pool passes average $20,000.

The county’s 2005 budget included very little spending — $800 — for building maintenance and nothing for equipment maintenance or replacement.

Both are needed.

About the Shadow Mountain Clubhouse, the county’s 2005 budget states, “much is needed to catch up with repairs and necessary upgrades to provide a safe and useful community facility.”

Kudos to the American Legion for doing whatever it can to ensure the facility remains open to the residents who lobbied so hard to keep it.

We hope the facility succeeds under its management as it did not under the county’s management, but we do think the legion has its work cut out for it.

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