Registered voters in the North Fork Pool, Park and Recretion District received their mail ballots for the May 8 Special District Election, which is being conducted by the Delta County Clerk.
Three candidates are running for the three four-year terms for the recreation district board.
They are Lisa Cook, Teresa Driscoll and Jean Aaro.
There are two two-year terms on the board. Candidates seeking those positions are Randy Spadafora, Margaret Shishim and Ulrich Lange.
Lisa Cook was appointed about two years ago to fill a vacancy on the board. She was a park planner after college. She has an undergraduate degree in natural resources, parks and recreation planning and a master's degree in landscape architecture.
"One of my first jobs was as a park planner," Cook said. She worked for a firm that was hired by park departments in the San Francisco area.
Jean Aaro had asked Cook at various times to volunteer at the recreation district. "We have succeeded in getting a master plan together which is what is required in order to get any grant," Cook said. The master plan was created after asking the community what they wanted from the district and giving the district guidance where they should be headed. Cook said that Aaro and other directors had done a great job in getting the master plan started. "They hired a consultant and had some really good input from the community," she said. "It was time for me to serve. I have a lot of expertise and a lot of working with the community experience. It was a natural fit. I really see preserving the swimming pool and the facilities at the high level we currently have them. The staff maintains the swimming pool spotlessly and runs it really meticulously," Cook said.
She also believes the district needs to plan ahead. For example, replace the boiler, which is 15 years old, which will save the district money with new modern equipment.
"We all collaborated with the Town of Paonia to put in a GOCO grant proposal for completely rebuilding the tennis courts in Paonia." Drawing on her experience, she helped guide the district to improve the courts while reducing maintenance costs.
Teresa Driscoll has been on the recreation board for six years. Driscoll is interested in continuing on the board because she wants to see some projects completed including the ball fields for softball and baseball. "I'm pretty interested for stuff for kids," Driscoll said. "We don't have anything set right now. We are talking to the baseball people, softball people. We are just trying to get it going so we can get our money together and try to get something done. The economy has put a damper on everything," she said.
"We have just done the master plan. In that plan we have a BMX track, walking trails. We have a lot in there for a lot of different interests." Driscoll added that people can stop in at the recreation district office and see the master plan. Driscoll has lived in the North Fork Valley since 1994.
Jean Aaro has served on the recreation board for four years. "We have made decent progress over the last four years, including completing a Recreation Master Plan for the district, providing significant financialsupport for the Town of Paonia GOCO grant for improvements [at] Apple Valley Park and recently finishing a conceptual plan for the undeveloped portion for Crossroads Park in Hotchkiss," Aaro wrote in an e-mail. "I'd like to continue to work to provide more recreation opportunities in the district for all age groups. Adults, in particular, were identified in the master plan survey as a growing population in the North Fork Valley with a desire to stay active and healthy."
She continued, "One of the highest priority needs identified in the master plan is more trails for walking, hiking, and bicycling. Both the Apple Valley and the Crossroads Park plans include new walking trails. I'd like to see trails developed to provide safe routes to walk or bike to school, to our existing parks, to the county fairgrounds, and to travel to and between the three communities in the North Fork Valley. I am also interested in developing programs and expanding the opportunities for all ages to exercise (play, swim, walk, bike, run, and hike) outdoors as a great way to build community interaction and healthy lifestyles," Aaro said.
Ulrich Lange is running for the board for the first time. "I like to help the community and be of service because I'm retired." Some people had suggested he should run. "I thought it over and came to the conclusion it would be something I would like to do," Lange said. "I feel young enough to do extra activities." Lange has served many years with the Paonia Rotary Club. He is president of Rotary until the end of June. He has served on the Pitkin Mesa Pipeline Company board. He is a member of the Paonia Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the coal committee for the NFRIA-WSERC Conservation Center. He is a retired mining engineer with a master's degree from the University of Berlin. "I think I can be of help."
Lange has seen the master plan written last year. He wants to "enhance the possibilities of people to do outdoor activities, and also do things for the seniors." He wants those who want to use district facilities to be able to travel easily from one place to another. He knows "money doesn't come easy" and wants to assist the district's fund raising efforts. Lange believesserving on the board "to work with others" will accoplish this goal.
Lange bought his first home in Paonia in 1992. A few years ago, he decided to make Paonia his permanent home, even though he has a farm in Pennsylvania. He stays active by doing a lot of bicycling.
Margaret Shishim is also running for the first time for the recreation district. "A friend of mine invited me to an impromptu meeting just to learn about an opening coming up on the board. She thought I would be a good person to be on the board. So, that's how I got interested. I didn't know anything about the Pool, Park and Recreation District board before, so I have been educating myself since then," Shishim said. She has read the district's master plan. "I have gone over most of the master plan. It is pretty interesting. I'm glad they have a plan. It's something where they have goals and see the need in the community and are going towards that," she said. "I feel like we have a lot of opportunities here forrecreation. I don't think all of those needs are met at this point. Shishim believes adult fitness classes are really important, and those could be expanded upon in the district. "Something I know other people are really interested in are nature areas, hiking, biking and walking trails. I would love to see more of those because that is where my interests lie," Shishim said. "I'm hoping that we can work with the BLM and the Forest Service to develop more of a trail system. I think it would be great for our valley. It would bring tourists in. It would bring other people from other parts of the state seasonally. But I think it would be great for us. It would be an economic boom to the valley as well as making our residents have easy access to places to walk and bike and hike, improve their health and feel better about themselve. That's what recreation does for you," Shishim said. She wants year round programs, not just for a few months a year. She wants to expand recreation indoors and outdoors with easy access.
Randy Spadafora has not served on the North Fork Pool, Park and Recreation Board, but has attended several meetings, as well as provided in-kind and other substantial donations to show his support of board projects over a period of 10 years.
"I would like to see the existing properties maintained adequately and the master plan carried out," Spadafora shared in an e-mail. "Once again, taking care of existing facilities and then carefully looking at the master plan, prioritizing reasonable projects due to the declining revenue the district is facing," he said. "I have been a business owner for over 20 years and know the importance of a weak economy, but you still need recreation to relax and enjoy family and friends. My family and I enjoy outdoor recreation such as snowmobiling, camping, and hunting. As a board member, one needs to consider our declining revenue and this makes it fiscally difficult to move forward responsibly. People are struggling and the financial decisions this board makes to continue to provide recreation in the North Fork Valley is important to show good stewardship of the tax payers' dollars. As a board member, you also need to roll up your sleeves and get dirty," Spadafora wrote.blog comments powered by Disqus