Two Durango city councilors claim that special interests are hindering the future of Durango's Parks, Open Space and Trails management, but both stopped short of calling out specific individuals or groups in recent talks about the ongoing POST master plan rewrite process.
"I don't want to give specific examples because I don't want anyone to feel bad," said Councilor Scott Graham.
Neither Graham nor fellow councilor Leigh Meigs would name a specific group or person, but they spoke in general terms about representatives from various adult and youth sports leagues who have tried to steer POST funds to benefit their causes.
"There's nothing wrong with being a special interest in particular, but what we're talking about with this document is the process where staff just contacted who the city had already heard from and didn't reach out to the general public," Graham said.
The POST update is being written by PROS Consulting, a professional firm that has completed similar plans for more than 600 municipalities nationwide.
Meigs and Graham announced in October that they disagreed with the choice of PROS and would not participate in the rewrite process until a draft master plan is expected to be ready for a council vote early this summer.
In a statement read by the two councilors during a Feb. 10 study session, Meigs and Graham defended their decision and said the ongoing process as conducted by PROS is not legitimate.
Graham said city staff members did "an admirable job of backtracking and opening it up. But once you go down that path, it's difficult."
The two recommend that if the process continues, the data collected should be used to create two separate master plans: one for natural lands or open space preservation and one for parks and recreation, thus ensuring a 50-50 split of POST funds.
Meigs and Graham said they lost confidence in PROS almost immediately when an initial citizen steering committee for the POST update was named by PROS and Parks and Recreation staff.
Although the council later opened the steering committee nominations to a public application process and recruited several focus groups, the two councilors said the damage already had been done.
The council had been told early on that they would not be involved in the process until a draft document was completed, but Meigs said her confidence already was shaken.
"I can't fix this, this process I disagree with, and I'm not going to continue to make an effort to change it," Meigs said.
"That's why I said I'm not going to keep meddling. If the public doesn't like it, they need to know we were told to let the process run, so I did, even though I disagreed deeply with how it was unfolding.
"None of that should affect whether I represent the public on voting on the final product, but I do have questions about how we're going to get to that final product."
The decision does not sit well with other members of council, including Mayor Renee Parsons.
"We, as elected officials, don't have the ability to pick and choose the issues we care about. We have a fiduciary responsibility to participate and work to the best our abilities, even on the issues we don't agree on," Parsons said.