**This release is issued on behalf of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB)**
Last week at the regular meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB), PRAB passed a resolution supporting the current ballot measures 2A and 2B. The resolution cited the strong needs in the parks and recreation system as reflected in the Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Master Plan adopted by City Council on January 6, 2021. The plan includes over $157,000,000 worth of priorities and projects to improve, sustain and expand the parks, recreation, open space and trails in the community. The vote from PRAB to approve the resolution was 6 for and 1 against.
Excerpts from the approved resolution are as follows:
Included in the 2021 PROS Plan is over $157,000,000 worth of priorities and projects to sustain, expand and improve the Parks, Recreation, Open Space and Trail system in the City of Grand Junction. With City of Grand Junction City Council Resolution 06-21, the City Council unanimously adopted, approved and endorsed the 2021 PROS Plan on January 6, 2021.
Top Preferences for New Funding for the over $157,000,000 in Priority Projects According to the Community Survey:
• Revenue from medical and recreational marijuana: 80% of statistically valid survey respondents
• Grants and fundraising: 79% of statistically valid survey respondents
• Tax on tobacco and vaping: 71% of statistically valid survey respondent
During the development of the PROS Master Plan in 2020, a marijuana working group formed at the direction of City Council to examine the possibility of legalizing marijuana in the City of Grand Junction. This work has culminated in ballot measures 2A and 2B, which will appear on the April 6, 2021 City of Grand Junction ballot.
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board acknowledges there is some negative effect with legalization of marijuana, but legal marijuana sales are already present in Mesa County as well as other nearby communities. These communities reap the financial benefit of these sales from City of Grand Junction residents. Furthermore, directing revenues from legalization towards a need that serves and benefits the Grand Junction community broadly, parks and recreation, would provide some counter-balance to negative effects. There is similarity to dedicated funding for Parks and Recreation in Grand Junction from marijuana revenue to Colorado Lottery proceeds being devoted to parks and recreation in the State of Colorado. Gambling also has some negative effects, but devoting revenues towards a service with broad community benefit, parks and recreation, counter-balances those negative effects. Colorado voters had tremendous foresight in passing the GOCO amendment in 1992. Colorado is the only state that directs the proceeds from the state lottery towards parks and recreation. This funding, along with Colorado’s broader recreation appeal and amenities (natural and built), is one huge reason why Colorado is the healthiest state in the Country as shown definitively by a variety of health indicators.
Furthermore, current funding is a challenge for the Parks and Recreation in Grand Junction. There are 285 acres of undeveloped parkland in the community and the PROS Master Plan illuminates significant funding need to the tune of over $157,000,000. One example of this struggle was the proposal to sell Burkey Park, an 18-acre park site that voters approved the sale of in the April 2, 2019 City of Grand Junction election. The proceeds of this sale will be used to help build Matchett Park, a 207-acre park site that the City acquired in 1996 and has tried to develop with at least two previous failed ballot proposals. 2001 saw a sales tax increase proposal to develop part of Matchett Park, which only garnered 25% support. The next effort came in 2019, where a proposal for a sales tax increase to build out part of Matchett Park fell short with 45% support. As reflected in the 2021 PROS Master Plan process, the community would like to see major progress with parks and recreation and revenue from marijuana was vastly preferred to any other funding mechanism.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL APPOINTED PARKS AND RECREATION ADVISORY BOARD OF THE CITY OF GRAND JUNCTION THAT:
The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board strongly supports ballot measures 2A and 2B on the April 6, 2021 City of Grand Junction ballot to enable funding to pursue the priorities 2020-2021 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan and therefore hereby approves and adopts this resolution generally and specifically provided herein.
“This issue is a constitutional right”, said City Council Member Phil P’ea, who is the Council liaison to PRAB. “Also, passage of 2A and 2B would keep these tax dollars in our community to fulfill a lot of the community needs clearly stated in the Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) Master Plan”.