by John Kiljan
Background: The Apex Park and Recreation District (Apex P&RD) is having an election. The Apex P&RD covers nearly the entire City of Arvada and a few areas in Jefferson County. Its recreational activities are funded through a combination of your property taxes, user fees and public grants.
This interview was held March 28th and is one in a series of interviews with candidates for the Apex P&RD’s Board of Directors. The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community offered each of the candidates an opportunity to respond to local CLRC issues and concerns related to recreation and to comment on them in an informal discussion. The interviewer was the CLRC’s T.O. Owens and this writer did the follow-up questions.
There are three candidates for the two open positions on the Apex P&RD Board. Terms are for four years. The election is scheduled for May 8th, but those who have already requested a mail-in ballot from Apex will be able to vote as early as mid-April.
Your vote counts more than in most elections for public office. Apex P&RD elections are typically won by small margins with only a few hundred people voting.
The Candidate: Lee Humrich is a current Apex Board member completing his first four-year term with the District. Mr Humrichs owns Trust Hall Insurance Services in Arvada. The company provides for all lines of family and business insurance, as well as financial planning. He and his wife, Judy, have four children, 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Mr Humrich is well known in the community. His past civic participation has included the past President of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club and Elks Lodge, the Arvada Economic Development Association (AEDA), and the Jefferson Economic Council (JEC) board. He is currently active with the Arvada Community Food Bank.
He also does volunteer work with his local Latter-Day Saints church in Arvada where he organizes their annual community service projects. Last year that included 500 volunteers cleaning up the 40 acres of land surrounding Arvada High School — including the grounds, parking lot, fields, fences, fence lines and painting. He also serves on the City of Arvada’s Transportation Committee.
Lee has lived in Arvada for the last 46 years in his current home at 7026 Dudley Drive.
On Recreational Opportunities Leaving the Central Ralston Road Community: My goal is to help all parts of Arvada that are in the District. I’ve learned a lot in the last four years about the programs, the facilities and how much they are used. I’m very much aware of the area along the central part of Ralston Road. I am an advocate for your area.
When I first ran for the Apex Board, I walked the area and listened to a lot of folks. I know exactly the feelings of people living there — and, yes, I heard a lot about the pool being shut down. And I’ve continued to hear about the pool since then. Whenever you have so many people in the community who are such serious advocates for a pool, it would be foolish not to listen to them. When I think about the pool, the thing that keeps coming back to me is that we had two district-wide bond elections where the voters turned down rebuilding the pool.
One of the things that has been suggested is that the area forms a separate district and has their own elections. The tax base would be very limited, because it wouldn’t take in the whole City. But I’ll listen to any ideas. I want to do whatever needs to be done to help people with recreation in Arvada. We want to keep people happy and healthy. Those are probably the two biggest things that I’m interested in as a Board member.
Now, sports recreation is great. I grew up with it. Many people love it, but there are many people in Arvada that do nothing with sports. So, keeping yourself healthy and active is what’s really, really important — especially as we age. Older people need to be active too.
So yes, I’m in favor of whatever we can do to help whatever the citizens want to do to bring recreation back to the central Ralston Road area.
On Apex’s Vision 2020 Review Committee: Going back to the original study committee, that was held around the year 2005. I was a part of that committee before joining the Board. Those meetings are what got me involved in Apex governance. I learned a whole lot in the process. I think the main emphasis of that group was to educate the participants and plan for the future. I believe there were about 30 people serving on that committee.
So that whole process was very educational for me and for the others in the group. We learned what kinds of facilities the District had in place. We planned for what could either be improved or added to, and we made our recommendations. And, of course, we had to see all those facilities. I attended every one of those six or seven meetings back then.
Now, as far as the current 2020 group goes, I think the main thing we’re looking for from the committee is a list of projects and strategies that will get support for Apex as we come up for a bond reissue in two or three years. As far as representation on the committee, I don’t even know all the people who are there. I’ve only been to one of the meetings. I did know many of the people who were there, but not all. Nor do I have a list of names of who’s participating.
But as far as I can tell, it’s a pretty competent group of people. The many I do know are much involved in our community. Our former mayor, Ken Fellman, is there, as is Councilor Shelley Cook. I suspect that the new group is even broader-based than the previous one. But I wasn’t involved in setting up the current committee.
On Partnering with Other Agencies: I think partnering with outside organizations is a great idea for several reasons. First, it brings in resources that we may not have available in the District. Secondly, it gives us a broader focus on the types of things that we can do. And finally, as a community, we needed to coordinate and work together with the City. I think the worse thing would be if each of us worked separately and not in coordination with the others. I’m wholly in favor of coordinated planning with the City and with urban renewal.
One discussion that is ongoing is, “What are we going to do with the Triangle shopping center area, and what kind of things should be put in there?” Do we want to put a in a recreation center? A hotel, retail, apartments, homes? It’s my hope that the whole shopping center and the new park can all be tied together to be a really beautiful asset for the community. And that new asset may very well include a recreation center.
Funding Recreational Facilities: The approach that I’m taking is that the information we receive from the 2020 committee will be a starting point for us for what we should do — whether it’s to improve the facilities that we have, whether it’s to build new facilities, or whether it’s to change the programs at some facilities. I think once that 2020 group has come together with their recommendations, then we can determine what should be done and how to fund it.
I don’t think there’s any way we’ll have an increase in the current mill levy. In my opinion, I don’t think that the electorate will approve it. And there’s been no discussion that I am aware of that we would even consider that.
But extending the current mill levy once the bonds are paid off is another matter. One thing we did about 2-1/2 years ago was to refinance those 1998 bonds with lower interest-rate bonds that saved the District about a million dollars.
I expect the 2020 group will identify the best capital projects for Apex to take on if the voters do decide to extend the current mill levy when it expires. If we have a good list of activities and projects, I am optimistic that the voters will approve that extension. But I also think that continuing the existing mill levy is not likely without the support of neighborhoods like yours.
On Financing and Operating and Maintaining a Local Pool: We have two outdoor pools in the district now. We probably have enough information available to get a reasonable estimate of the income and expenses that a local pool would generate. But from the information I’ve read in trade journals and other sources, outdoor pools are becoming more and more difficult to maintain in this kind of climate. That’s because an outdoor pool is only open for three months out of the year and for nine months it sits without water in it.
If the people will support it, I’m not opposed to the concept of an incremental taxing sub-district to operate an outdoor pool. And the people would have to support it for it to pass at the polls. Apex’s business is to run facilities that help people to have a healthy life and to have recreation. That’s our business, and if the public has facilities that they want us to run and there’s a way to work it, that’s what we are in business for. That’s what we do.
But, yes, I am concerned that separate taxing sub-district would be feeding out of the same public trough. That’s one of the issues and details we would have to work out. It’s also one of the things that I hope the 2020 group can work to address.
I wouldn’t be opposed to changing our intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the City of Arvada to allow the City to operate a neighborhood-sized recreation center with a pool, but I would have some questions. One of the things we have right now is an agreement that all recreational facilities are run by Apex whether they are owned by Apex or owned by the City. So I would be asking things like, “Would the City be assuming the cost of operations and maintain it as well?”
I’ll go on record as an Apex Board member as saying that anything the community wants to do that makes economics sense, I will support. It’s as simple as that.
Not specifically on a replacement for the Fisher Pool, but on any outdoor swimming pool in the District: Some of the comments I’ve heard are, “Since we already have two outdoor pools, to scrape together enough money to build yet another outdoor pool and maintain it, we would have to have the whole District’s support to do that. And that’s the main reason that the District voted down two bond issues. The voters felt, since we already have two outdoor pools, they did not want to pay for another one.” I heard this argument several times in public meetings.
Do you think it would be wise for us to come back with a scaled-down pool proposal with a minimum facility? The biggest problem with the cost of the pool is the additional cost of the dressing room facilities and the building that has to go with the pool.
I’ve also brought up the fact that the last two bond proposals for a replacement pool only offered one facility at a single location. The proposals didn’t have a broad appeal across the District that was voting on them. But a bond proposal with broader appeal and more projects in several locations also comes with a bigger price tag. We’re in tough economic times. My concern is no matter what you take to the voters, they’re going to say, “Live with what you have.” And if you don’t super-size a facility, many people won’t support it.
A debate we should have is whether it is better to have many neighborhood facilities in the District versus the larger regional facilities such as the Apex Center itself. There is no doubt that your neighborhood lost something as its smaller local recreational facilities were replaced with the bigger regional facilities such as the Apex Field House at Lutz/Stenger.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
Lee Humrich can be reached at
7026 Dudley Drive
Arvada CO 80004
or by email at
He plans no website for this campaign, and no campaign contributions are being accepted.
Here’s a link to the Apex Park and Recreation’s website on the election:
It has a link to request a mail-in ballot and who to call to get more information.
The polls will be open May 8th from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at two locations:
13150 W 72nd Avenue
and at the
Community Recreation Center
6842 Wadsworth Boulevard
Note: In past Apex elections, most have chosen to vote by mail-in ballot. However, even if you are already registered as a voter, you will not automatically receive a mail-in ballot. Voters must apply for one directly to Apex, in person or by mail, by the end of April. Call Luanne Levine at Apex at 303-403-2518 for more information.
Carolyn Jacobs and Jeff Glenn are also running for these Board vacancies. The CLRC does not endorse candidates for elected office. However, interviews for all three of the candidates for the Apex Board vacancies can be found by going to the Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community’s website at www.RalstonCommunity.org
John Kiljan, CLRC News: 303-423-9875 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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