Rec-center supporters planning ‘pep rally’

Group hosts open house, will present details at meeting June 5

The organizers of an effort to build a community and recreation center in Grand Junction envision a magnet for folks to come meet, move, learn and play, according to a tagline for the group.

Behind the effort is a concerted desire for Grand Junction residents to make an investment in having a healthy population, in many ways, says the citizen-led PLACE — or, People for Local Activities and Community Enrichment.

The group hosted an open house at the Mesa County Central Library on Tuesday evening, an event that was part preview of the group’s plans — which will be presented at a June 5 meeting with Grand Junction City Council members — and part community pep rally to get folks fired up about the idea.

“What we really want is for this to be an investment in our community,” said Andreya Krieves, who presented PLACE’s goals to a roomful of interested people. “We’re looking at something that is not just a gym, or another recreation facility. We want somewhere we can really connect and learn about our neighbors.”

The immediate goal of the group — following more than a year and half of listening to community input, Krieves said — is to have a formal feasibility study conducted about the idea. Critical to that is the city’s buy-in, which would entail applying for a state Department of Local Affairs “mini-grant.” Organizers with PLACE have lined up some additional grant funding to get the feasibility study done, but the city partnership and expected DOLA grant would be big boosts for the project.

Krieves hoped lots of supporters of the idea of a rec center — similar to successful centers in both Fruita and Montrose — come to the June 5 city council meeting to express their support.

“Not only do we have a lot of support from the community, but we think that the timing is right,” Krieves said.

“I grew up in a place (in California) where there was a great rec center,” said volunteer Alicia Langton, who described the community where she grew up as very conservative and not apt to vote for tax increases for community projects.

“However, they realized we had a great need, to support the children that didn’t have a lot of opportunities after school. (And a need) to support families, in having intergenerational activities,” Langton said.

Volunteer Brenda St. John has been in Grand Junction since 1996, and has two grown children who could have used something like a rec center growing up.

“There are a lot of kids in this community that could take advantage of that,” she said.

St. John said many of the people she’s talked to — the group has collected more than 2,000 signatures of support for the feasibility study so far — cast a vote against a proposed events center that failed by a wide margin in the recent November election, but would vote for a rec center if given an opportunity.

“This is actually for the citizens who are here … and they will be able to see and experience the benefits of it,” St. John said.


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