Evergreen Park & Recreation District briefs

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Community garden expansion

The Evergreen Park & Recreation District wants to help the Evergreen Sustainability Alliance expand the community garden in Buchanan Park.

ESA wants to add 15 new raised beds on the north side of the garden, and ESA members will discuss the proposal further at the rec district board’s next meeting at 5 p.m. Oct. 25.

“We want to partner and rebuild relationships,” recreation district Executive Director Cory Vander Veen said. “And we want to be able to add more people who can use the garden.”

The Buchanan Park garden was established in 2014 with the help of a Great Outdoor Colorado grant and has 44 public plots. The garden currently has a 52-person waiting list, according to ESA, and it estimates the expansion would cost about $15,000.

Pocket park in Indian Hills

The Evergreen Park & Recreation District is investigating how it can help the Indian Hills Improvement Association create a pocket park next to the community center.

Vander Veen said Indian Hills wants to put a patio and picnic tables so people can sit along the creek. He told the district board on Sept. 27 that he wanted the rec district and the improvement association to work together on this project.

Consultants for lake trail, strategic plan

Evergreen Park & Recreation District officials hope to hire two consultants at its Oct. 25 meeting: a firm to help with its strategic planning process and a construction management firm for the Evergreen Lake North Trail project.

District officials said both had gone out for bid.

Once both consultants are hired, both projects will start in earnest, Liz Cohen, EPRD’s grants and development coordinator, told the board on Sept. 27.

The district received five bids for the construction management position, and staff will interview candidates. Once staff selects the most qualified candidate, then a price will be negotiated, Cohen said.

She said the district hopes to rebid the north trail project at the end of October or beginning of November once the construction management firm is on board. The district put the project out for bid in June but only received one bid that was higher than the $4.5 million the district has for the project.

The project will put a trail along Evergreen Parkway and one along the lakeshore.

First draft of the budget

The Evergreen Park & Recreation board took its first look at the proposed 2023 budget with two more drafts coming until the final budget is approved in early December.

Vander Veen reminded the board at its Sept. 27 meeting that the budget must be balanced, and with increasing costs, staff salary increases and repairs needed to district facilities, the district needs to find more revenue.

While the budget will change before December, here are some of the initial assumptions and items in the proposed 2023 budget.

Revenues:

  • User fees will increase 8% to 10%.
  • EPRD is hoping to get a $71,000 grant for weed mitigation, with EPRD’s portion being $4,000, and a $24,000 grant to replace ADA-accessible paddle boats. EPRD’s portion of that grant would be $24,000.

Expenses:

  • The rec district has put $240,000 into the budget to pay for an election in case the board wants to ask voters for a bond or mill-levy increase in November 2023. The board has discussed a bond election multiple times in the last few years, but it has not decided whether to ask for more property taxes from voters, how much or what the money would be used for. The board is starting a strategic planning process that will address the need for a bond ask.
  • The board must pay for an election in May 2023.
  • The district has seen an approximate 35% jump in utility expenses.
  • The budget also has $250,000 for the Evergreen Lake North Trail project, which is the district’s portion of the cost. The district has $4.5 million in grants and is looking for an extra $500,000 to pay for contingencies. Work is expected to start in 2023.
  • The budget has 3% merit increases for staff, and the board hopes it can increase the percentage. However, the board won’t know how high that amount can be until the budget is solidified. The board recently increased the minimum pay for some positions to $14 per hour.

“The message to our employees is you are worthwhile, and we appreciate everything you do,” board member Betsy Hays said. “We are not being chintzy but have to be able to support our budget.”

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