Why are you running for the EPRD board and why are you the best candidate for the position?
I believe I’m the most qualified person for the job. I am actively coaching, participating and running a business engaged in building rec facilities every day. I am leading three redevelopment field projects for West Jeff Baseball, I run a hockey program for kids on the lake, I proposed a fiscally responsible indoor rec facility two years ago with a comprehensive plan, and I have been actively supporting our dog park. I will bring the highest level of commitment and expertise to the board that is needed to improve our community.
What is the rec district’s greatest asset?
In non-literal terms, the town of Evergreen has enormous untapped potential, a gold mine awaiting exploration. Our community is extremely active and would support the initiatives I am seeking. I feel like I’m able to see that and how we can tap this potential for the community’s benefit.
What are the three biggest challenges facing the rec district?
- We need to improve facilities and add new ones. Gym space is maxed out, fitness facilities are outdated, and we have two pools, one needing replacement and the other lacking function. We must focus on revenue-positive activities and new trends.
- EPRD’s role should expand to include park management with a dog park, pump track and trail connectivity, taking the district on a new, exciting path.
- EPRD has a void of leadership with no executive director for five months. Staff turnover has been high over the past few years. Leadership starts at the top, and EPRD has been filled with obstructionists for too many years.
How do you propose tackling those challenges?
- Update the master plan to tackle needs based on priority and revenue starting with getting a needs-and-wants assessment from the staff to complete the most projects in the least amount of time, communicating that we aim to improve.
- We need to get a working IGA with Jeffco for its unused property for district use. We could test our relationship with Denver Parks to see if we can pull more ownership and management opportunities.
- We need to hit the reset button. Many staff haven’t had the opportunity to really shine. We need to let them do their jobs and support their judgment.
What experience or expertise would you bring to the EPRD board?
I have been involved in recreation my entire working life. I am an expert in recreation management, construction and revenue activities. I live this every day even when I’m not involved with EPRD, so my free knowledge and hard work would be a tremendous asset for them to utilize. My projects worked on while not on the board clearly show I’m a tremendous asset. I have demonstrated time and time again that my ideas will improve the district.
What would you do to promote openness and transparency in government?
The way voting is being presented to our community is a voter-suppression tactic although that likely wasn’t the intent. The board allocated money for a mail ballot and then voted against it. I realize there is substantial cost involved, but our community deserves to be involved in elections. I would like to see more publicly available documentation of ongoing actions, like the Denver and Jeffco contract discussions. I am likely the only person in this community who has read every contract EPRD actively has since I filed a Colorado Open Records Act request. Optically it seems undemocratic the way EPRD currently operates.
Should EPRD ask voters for a bond in 2023? If yes, what projects should the bond pay for? If no, why not?
I have presented alternative methods of funding such as Sale-Leaseback (like a mortgage but for special districts), and COP (Certificates of Participation, private bonds) as alternative methods of funding revenue-positive activities. Neighboring districts APEX and Foothills have both utilized these mechanisms to fund capital projects for buildings. I am open to a sensible bond as part of a multi-phase approach but would not seek this as a first option or second option.
Two proposals have been presented for indoor fields in the last two years. What are your thoughts on EPRD constructing such a facility?
One of the indoor proposals was mine. The estimated cost at that time was $4 million (much higher now because of inflation). My proposal also had cost analysis, revenue modeling and architectural plans, which the other proposal was lacking. A multi-purpose facility would be revenue positive that could be used to help fund revenue-losing activities. It’s also needed for fall/winter/spring activities when the weather is bad. Pickleball, tennis, turf and fitness classes are all options worth consideration. The second proposal was grossly inflated at $26 million, lacking revenue documentation and cost-to-build analysis. But at its core, it’s still a very good revenue-positive idea. I just want people to support it instead of being turned off by the high cost.
Should EPRD seriously consider expanding its boundaries to include Conifer?
This really isn’t up to EPRD. Voters on the south end would need to approve. They have voted down their own rec projects on four separate occasions, so it’s unlikely to happen. There is also the critical lack of water to support a facility, which creates location issues. I have actively explored this with a private project on U.S. 285. There are many obstacles. I would love to see a true mountain district.
EPRD’s strategic plan is outdated. How important is a strategic plan to EPRD’s future?
A master plan is important for any business or entity. It’s budgeting, goal-setting and communicating to the public our plan for the future. I would anticipate having this accomplished this year if elected.
Is there anything else you’d like voters to know about you?
The combined attendance of three candidates (Lewis, Shappard and Courington) at board meetings is roughly 30-2 to the other five candidates. It’s not just attendance, as all three have been actively involved in pushing rec projects though not on the board. We have demonstrated that we care and will lead regardless of elected status. My personal projects include WJBB site projects at Wilmot and EMS, running an ice program at the lake, dog park and indoor facility proposals, and other field improvements. I have been here all along and will continue to work to improve our community regardless of winning or losing this election.