Friday, August 7, 2009

Gates Foundation sends out its eyes and ears.

Lisa Flores, rep from the Gates Foundation, visited Fruita this past week to see for herself what Mary Caywood's grant proposal was about. Caywood has given hours and hours of time writing grants to ensure that the new Community Center's pool sports 6 swimming lanes instead of only three. Three lanes have been determined not to be very cost efficient when it comes to bringing in revenue from use. 
Because of that fact, the Penny Possee, a group of interested citizens have struck out to raise enough funds to pay for three more pool lanes to ensure good use of the pool for swim lessons, 
for enough lanes for lap swimming,  for use at school or other swim meets, water arobics and more, all which would be sharply curtailed with only three lanes.
Flores noted that the Gates Foundation already has a 12 inch thick stack of proposals for review.
She also noted that not all of those proposals were not well written or did not meet the criteria of the Foundation.
Because Caywood's proposal really fits the goal of the Foundation, Flores was sent out to see for herself just what the Fruita Community Center is about. She was given a tour of the town, the community, the schools and the site. She was a close listener to the reasons for having a community center in Fruita as well as the benefits for the community upon the building thereof.
The history of the attempts to get approval by the citizens of Fruita include two unsuccessful attempts to get approval by the City. The last request went to the voters who successfully, though by a slim margin, voted to build the facility.
At present, due to the national economic downturn, there have been suggestions for cuts in that facility. It is my opinion, Vera Mulder, that the suggestions must be met with scrutiny. Number one, a gym was never in the original plan. At last minute, in the "what do we want" process, several individuals who had not been in on the "blood, sweat and tears" of planning, demanded several items such as the gym, a water slide, and a place for child care. All of these items are great ideas, but if cuts have to be made, they should be shelved and then, as future funds enable such, be built in phases. This would be the smart way to build a facility that is not out of room before it is even completed. Fruita does not deserve a second rate facility after all this time in working to even get one approved. I would  hope those in charge are not short sighted in this.
At the onset, after two attempts failed, I suggested building a facility housing meeting rooms, kitchen and senior room along with a state of the art swimming facility. Then the rest of the facility could have been constructed in phases, wisely and economically. My ideas were trashed quickly.
The Public Library Association will be building, (at their cost) a new library, so badly needed for Fruita by adding it onto the new Community Center. This is a real asset to the community for it will house more computers as well as room for programs and other crucial items for Fruita.
Karen Leonhart has taken over the reigns from Tom Dodd, original Penny Possee leader. She and her committee are attempting to raise several million needed for the added three lanes to the pool. In light of the hard work of this committee, it would be a shame to construct a pool that does not meet the criteria for swim and dive meets as well as the opportunity for the community to use the same up-to-par facility. Our valley does not have pools enough to go around. Only Mesa State, Orchard Mesa Middle School are large enough for good use. Fruita Monument High School is a five lane, frequently closed, and limited public usage facility.
Go figure, two and a half pools to serve over 100,000 people. This shows all the more reason to construct a good pool at the Fruita Community Center.
Hopefully, the Gates Foundation will favor our community with a substantial grant. This news should reach the City after November, 2009.

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