by John Kiljan
Dear CLRC members and friends,
Something important is happening this coming Thursday evening. The Apex Park and Recreation District will hold its final public input meeting on what new recreational facilities to build for the City. Shortly after that, Apex will put together a package of projects for voter approval – possibly this November. How that ballot issue goes will most likely decide Arvada’s recreational future for the next two decades. The meeting will be held at 6:30 pm, Thursday, March 26th at the Community Recreation Center at 6842 Wadsworth Boulevard.
Apex is expected to promote a package of developments centered around a “Vision 2020” citizen’s report developed several years ago. That report recommends not building a replacement for the Fisher pool that Apex closed down eight years ago in what is now Ralston Central Park. However, that may change if there is enough support for local recreation along the central Ralston Road corridor. This meeting may be the only opportunity to do that.
Apex’s Executive Director, Mike Miles, recently said at a public meeting that the recreation district will not be encouraging further public feedback after, or outside of, this meeting.
For its part, the City of Arvada has set aside $3,100,000 in its budget to construct a recreation facility which would most likely include a pool near to where the Fisher Pool used to be located. However, to build a replacement facility would likely cost at least twice that amount, and no site has yet been identified, nor has the additional funding needed been identified.
At a joint meeting with the City of Arvada, the Apex Board of Directors said that they intended to seek public input at three meetings and bring the results back to the Arvada City Council with a ballot proposal. The first meeting was held in January and the February meeting was cancelled. This is the third, and last, meeting. The resulting study session with the Council is expected to take place about five weeks after this one – tentatively, on Friday, May 1st. Hopefully, it will be open to the public, but public comment is not expected to be allowed.
Currently, Apex charges homeowners and businesses about 5.43 mills in property tax to keep its facilities going. That amounts to about $108 a year for a typical $250,000 Arvada home — whether you use their facilities or not. However 1.73 mills of that will be expiring in 2017 (about $35/year), and it is that renewal that must go to the voters to be extended. The extension, if it passes, should bring in about $25 million in new construction monies for recreational facilities across the district.
So what should that money be spent on? Not in the south and east parts of Arvada, and not for a replacement for the Fisher Pool, according to Apex statements. And, apart from the ballot box, Thursday’s meeting may be your last chance to have a say in what we will be asked to vote on.
Although many disagree, Apex has repeatedly said it does not believe that the public wants it to build facilities that operate at a loss, i.e. facilities where admission fees, such as swimming pools, do not fully pay for the cost of running the facility. Organized sports facilities, do typically pay for their own operating costs. (In part, that’s why Apex has become a thriving regional sports center for things such as ice hockey, golf, baseball and soccer events.)
Other cities, such as Wheat Ridge, that have an integrated park and recreation departments do not have this problem. Having some facilities operating at a small annual loss is considered the norm because of the benefits they bring to their communities. But Apex is different. The Apex Park and Recreation District is a separate and independent government agency and is not a part of the government of the City of Arvada. They are two different animals.
In preparation for the meeting, here is some reference material readers may find useful. It starts with a partial transcription of a joint Apex Board of Directors and the Arvada City Council meeting held on January 6, 2015 at the Indian Tree golf club meeting room. The discussion preceding it centered on the need to propose a project, or projects, to the public that had “sizzle” — like the Apex Center itself – one that the voters could get behind at the ballot box. Although no public comment was invited at this strategy workshop, that thought was enough for Terri Binder, as a member of the public, to rise up and speak to the group.
* * *
TERRI BINDER: Just sitting here listening to all of this, I’ve heard some really good things, like walkable communities. You know, that’s the big thing right now. Right now, I live in east Arvada. I consider it east Arvada — the old part of Arvada, and I use things that are close to me, but I will not go out to Apex. It’s too far. Now, I also like places I can walk to. I don’t like to always have to get in my car. So that’s one thing I’ve heard here that I encourage. I think that is a key thing when we’re thinking about an election.
The other things is when RTD did their FastTrack program, I was there for their “Guide the Ride” thing — which failed — but we did think about how you get people to vote for this. Well, you’ve got to give everybody something, so I was looking at these five areas of Arvada, so maybe, when you go out and talk to people, or get groups from each one of those areas, [ask] what would they like in their area?
Not the big picture, but what would resonate with them in their specific area? [interruption] And it might be different. It might be different in area one, or two, or five or whatever, because their needs are different than other needs. And that’s what we did with FastTracks. What do the people want in the areas this is going to go to? So that’s just the thought. That I really think if you are really interested in walkable communities [garbled]. Do we want people getting into cars and driving long distances?
JIM WHITFIELD [interrupting]: I just don’t know you can put a facility – well, I guess as long as it’s walkable to a bus stop, then I think we’re getting . . .
TERRI BINDER [interrupting]: Well, I think, the other thing I was going to say, people mentioned something about RTD. I think the thing about RTD being able to drive buses everywhere we want: They don’t have the money and they are not going to do it. So I mean I hate to say that, but that’s the truth. And so, I think we need to be thinking strategically about the transportation system, and how people are going to get there. Are they going to be able walk to it, take a bike to it? Those kinds of things and I think that’s why I think we need to look at area individually. And then . . .
MARC WILLIAMS [interrupting]: Well the school board’s done that. The school district’s done that for years. And, you know, that’s how they get a lot of their elections . . .
TERRI BINDER [interrupting]: Yeah, they’re getting something they want. Not so much the big picture, but what’s in it for me, what’s in it for them.
* * *
After this, Councilor Fifer talked about the money the City has already invested in making Arvada more walkable and more bike friendly.
Notes: Terri Binder is a former RTD director. She headed up the western slope’s Club 20 transportation efforts, and she is currently on the City of Arvada’s Transportation Committee.
Jim Whitfield is an Apex director and was formerly the chair of their board, and was on the board when the Apex Park and Recreation District went to the voters with single-issue ballots to rebuild the Fisher Pool in Ralston Central Park. Those passed locally, but not district-wide. You can read his notes on this meeting at http://jim-whitfield.com/?p=442
Marc Williams is Arvada’s mayor.
WHERE TO FIND OUT MORE
Apex’s announcement for this meeting can be found at this link:
[This is a corrected link.]
The CLRC’s own 24-page survey of recreational needs for the central Ralston Road corridor that identifies a community pool as a top priority can be found clicking on this link provided by the City of Arvada:
The City also has a separate web page for a Ralston Community Recreations center at
Apex’s Vision 2020 report can be found at
but those 2020 recommendations are somewhat contradicted by other Apex needs surveys.
The 174-page National Research Center Report prepared for the district can be found at
And the much shorter and very readable Mind Mixer survey report, that is rich in pool comments, and was conducted for Apex can be found at
Mr Whitfield has a copy of the work packet that the entire joint study session with the City Council used at their January 6th meeting at
If you’ve never been to Apex’s Community Recreation Center (where this meeting will be held), you should drop by and visit. It’s your center if you live in Arvada. Your property taxes and apartment rents help pay for its operation. Some of the services it offers, such as Silver Sneakers, are free to use for some insurance plans. Formerly, it was called the Senior Center and many of its artistic activities are still senior oriented.
Here is the link for that facility:
The Citizens for a Livable Ralston Community is an independent neighborhood association representing the neighborhoods adjacent to Ralston Road from Wadsworth Bypass to the Kipling Parkway.
Our main website is at http://www.RalstonCommunity.org or you can read even more posts on our Facebook page at “CLRC – Citizens for a Liveable Ralston Community”. You can write to us, call us or email us at
c/o John Kiljan, Secretary
6185 Field Street
Arvada, CO 80004
March 21, 2015