The Durango City Council did not approve a Parks and Recreation Master Plan on Tuesday as scheduled over differences about the specificity of the document.
City staff, consultants hired with taxpayer dollars and residents have spent more than two years providing input to draft the 2019 Parks and Recreation Master Plan, a document city staff said operates as a means of recognizing community priorities for department spending.
The document, with a 10-year scope, lists about $332 million in proposed projects, ranging from $200,000 for new trails at Three Springs to more than $100 million for development of Durango Mesa Park.
It embodies dozens of hours of community input from meetings and surveys and suggests “big moves” – described as “overarching and visionary in nature” – including connecting trails, addressing old facilities and infrastructure, renovating the Durango Community Recreation Center or building another one, and developing the Lake Nighthorse Recreation Area.
Kim Baxter, who’s been on City Council since April, suggested the master plan should guide spending priorities with an emphasis on limited available resources. Baxter said parts of the Animas River Trail are in “poor” condition and replacing asphalt sections with concrete should be clear in the master plan.
City Councilor Chris Bettin, elected in 2017, agreed that the city should recognize its limited available resources but suggested the Parks and Recreation Master Plan is not the appropriate document for it. He suggested an appendix to the document to address “what is reasonable in this big list without unimaginable funding.”
But finite decisions about annual spending should be left to annual strategic planning and budget processes, he said.
“The Parks and Rec Board has gone through every year and looked at a plan like this and a strategic plan and previous list of projects to adjudicate, then we have a choice about what items actually get put into the budget,” he said.
Bettin moved to approve the plan, but the council split two to two on the issue. Mayor Melissa Youssef joined Bettin in voting for approval, while Baxter and Councilor Barbara Noseworthy voted not to approve the master plan. City Councilor Dean Brookie did not attend Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Baxter said she wants to wait for the council to approve its 2020 budget, which is scheduled for early December, before approving any master plans. Noseworthy agreed, and Youssef confirmed Baxter’s proposal before addressing the next item on Tuesday night’s agenda.