The future of open space spending: City creates POST Board
The future of open space spending: City creates POST Board

Beginning July 1, the City of Durango raised sales tax a half cent in response to last April’s voter-approved Ballot Question 2A. Half of the proceeds from the tax will go toward open space, parks and trails acquisition and preservation while the other half will go toward funding a new library and other capital improvements. Which projects will be selected for the $2.5 million to $3 million annually has been an issue since the new tax was adopted. On Tuesday, the Durango City Council put the question to rest.

A citizens advisory committee, which will oversee how the funds are spent and make project recommendations, has always been proposed. On Tuesday, the council decided the make-up of such a board, amid some controversy.

Known as the POST (Parks, Open Space, Trails) Advisory Board, the new committee will be composed of one member each of the city’s existing Open Space, Parks and Forestry and Recreation Advisory Committees. In addition, two at-large members will be named by the council. The make-up has caused some consternation in the community. Scott Graham, chair of the Open Space Advisory Committee, and others felt that representation should be weighted in favor of open space.

“It was called the Open Space Referendum and numbers show that 62 percent of the electorate voted for 2A because of open space,” he said. “We felt that the representation on the board should reflect that.”

Cathy Metz, director of Parks and Recreation, countered that open space is at the top of all three groups’ agendas. The split was intended to make the board as democratic as possible.

“The parks and forestry board dealt with open space before the open space board existed,” Metz explained. “All three of the boards are very supportive of the broader community desire to preserve open space.”

The POST Advisory Committee was adopted Tuesday, with council member Renee Parsons dissenting and saying she was concerned that open space preservation could be passed over for parks projects. Actual members for the board will be selected in coming weeks.

– Will Sands

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