South Metro Land Conservancy posed 4 questions to all six South Suburban Parks and Recreation candidates and received responses from five of them. These responses appear below unedited, exactly as they were received. SMLC is extremely appreciative of the time the candidates took to address these questions and we thank them!
For more information about the May 2nd election and candidate bios, please go to https://www.ssprd.org/News-And-Events/Post/19905
- SSPRD’s 2017 Master Plan is driven by four guiding principles one of which is “Lead Sustainability.” Given accelerating climate change, the considerable acreage under the District’s stewardship and its goals to save taxpayer dollars on mowing and water use, what will you do to promote environmental sustainability?
- Another guiding principle in the 2017 Master Plan is “Connect with Nature.” The document sites research from the Children’s Nature Network stating that the “…average youth spends just four to seven minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day and much more time in front of screens…” What will you do to connect children and youth with nature?
- There is a perception among some that SSPRD prioritizes active recreation over passive recreation because active recreation generates fees. What will you do to address this perception among all of SSPRD’s users, whether they play ice hockey or hike, play pickle ball or birdwatch?
- Please feel free to share additional thoughts about open spaces and natural areas in our community. Also, feel free to include any thoughts or comments about the Draft SSPRD Master Plan which will be released by the end of this month.
The Candidates Answer
Please select a candidate’s name to view their answers; each response is numbered to match the questions listed above.
Candidate Michael Edwards
Candidate Pam Eller
Candidate John Priddy
Candidate Elizabeth Watson
The SSPRD 2023 Master Plan Draft references the word sustainability a few times, including a reference to a sustainability committee and a sustainability plan. Unfortunately, there is not much more information on either item in the plan or on the SSPRD website. I have looked into the SSPRD sustainability committee and what I have discovered is that the committee just re-established in January 2023 after taking a break during the pandemic and it is focused on improving the organization's stewardship of community resources. It is an non-public internal advisory committee that makes recommendations to the SSPRD management team, the committee does not directly interface with the board of directors. As a board member, I will learn more about ways SSPRD can promote environmental sustainability through partnerships with organization like the South Metro Land Conservancy and I will advocate for the implementation of such recommendations.
Nature play is superior a creating a sense of self for children through fostering both the development of independence and interdependence. Children are encouraged to connect with nature through the influential adults in their lives. Considering this, I think SSPRD will need to be intentional in finding ways to build/enhance the bond between nature and parents, educators and other community adults so they can serve as nature mentors. The ambition of a raising children deeply connected with nature cannot happen without adults to participate in the process to serve as encouragement and guides to put down technology and step outside.
I think it is important to have transparency around the district’s budget, this would help address misconceptions. I also believe that allowing undeveloped parts of the district to remain wild, undisturbed so ecosystems can flourish would also demonstrate an equal appreciation for both types of recreation and help the district uphold it’s guiding principal of Stewards of Nature and Sustainability.
The Draft SSPRD Master Plan was delivered for public review 2 months late and only allows for 2 weeks of public comment which is unfortunate and limits the residents input on the future direction of SSPRD. It is also disappointing the focus groups reviewing the Draft Master Plan did not include trail users or open space users, it seems like a lot of important voices are missing. The majority of respondents want improvements to trails, parks, and aging facilities and yet SSPRD is spending resources on a new rec center in Lone Tree. SSPRD needs to address these inequities in response to what residents are requesting. Lastly, although sustainability is mentioned in the Draft Master Plan, it is briefly and vaguely without full disclosure of how the district is currently and moving forward addressing sustainable practices.