1.One of SSPRD’s four guiding Principles is, “Connect with Nature.” The 2017 Master Plan highlights a number “Potential Steps” to achieve this principle. Please tell us your thoughts about all or some of the “Potential Steps” highlighted in the document.
I have read in detail the SSPRD Master Plan and the District’s three-year operating budget. But given the current state of significant COVID-19 financial impacts, these documents will both have to be revised. The current board and staff are working diligently to determine which projects can be moved forward and what service levels will be sustainable for the foreseeable future.
Having said this, if elected to the board, I will continue to take steps to improve access to nature for residents of all ages, seeking to overcome the challenges of incorporating the new best practices of social distancing and wearing masks, so all of us can safely continue to spend time maintaining our health and enjoying nature.
I will also encourage looking for opportunities to acquire and provide more green spaces throughout our south metro area, utilizing ecologically sound management practices when the timing is appropriate.
I will continue efforts to identify and implement water and energy efficiency improvements to help parkland and facilities meet or exceed industry and peer standards that lead to sustainability.
2. What specific ways can SSPRD inspire community members, especially youth, to get outdoors and enjoy nature?
It’s my opinion that playground renewal stimulates interest in local communities to use their neighborhood parks and trails. In addition, a wide array of youth, individual, family, and older active adult outings and programs are offered throughout the District to connect community members to nature during all hours of the day and in all seasons.
Because I was the Centennial City Council liaison to SSPRD, I am very familiar with all of the collaboration that occurs between SSPRD and its local partners. Centennial and SSPRD have been joint partners on many projects in the past, and as a South Suburban board member, I will work with the new Centennial City Council liaison to continue the success of our shared partnerships. In addition, I believe multi-purpose field improvements shared by both entities are important, but because they can be expensive and because of the near-future financial challenges, some may have to be rescheduled where possible.
I can’t over emphasize that with the COVID pandemic and resulting financial challenges, at this point we are in new territory. We don’t know when the current COVID pandemic will be eliminated in the near-term, or whether it will return in the months or years ahead. For this reason, we can’t predict how fully open the District’s recreation centers and other facilities will be in the near and long term, or how safe all of our residents will feel in using them if they are open. Or as importantly, when all group events and sports be again be allowed and fully embraced by our residents of all ages, as has always been the case in years past. Therefore, we must preserve, maintain, and add to our open spaces as much as is financially feasible, knowing that most residents feel a much greater level of safety in being able to maintain healthy distances in these open lands.