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South Suburban Parks and Recreation District’s three newly elected board members say they look forward to maintaining and enhancing what they call a beloved and top-tier local amenity.
Susan Pye, Pete Barrett and Dave Lawful were elected to the board of South Suburban Parks and Recreation District on May 8. Each will serve a four-year term.
Board members John Ostermiller, Mike Anderson and Pam Eller are term-limited and will retire from the board this month, South Suburban said in a press release.
The newly elected board members will join sitting members Scott LaBrash and Jim Taylor.
Pye, Barrett and Lawful won over a crowded field of nine, beating Jerry Bakke, Charlie Blosten, Michael Kohut, Jeff Monroe, Dan Purse and Tom Wood.
Unofficial results from late on election night show Pye with 1,220 votes, the only candidate to receive more than 1,000. Barrett came in second with 841 and Lawful third with 794.
South Suburban serves a wide swath of the south metro area, operating parks, recreation centers and league sports.
Pye is a recently retired international telecommunication technical trainer who trained staff in countries worldwide, according to her candidate profile. She works part-time at IKEA. She is the chair of the Centennial Senior Commission and does outreach for the Mobility Ambassador Program, among other volunteer activities.
Pye said she’s optimistic about the district’s future, and that her goal is staying the course.
“There’s a good mandate in place in the form of the master plan and strategic plan,” Pye said. “Our task is maintaining and enhancing the assets we’ve got.”
Pye said residents of the district sometimes take it for granted, and that she’d like to help people engage with it more.
“We don’t utilize it as much as we can,” Pye said. “If I can help send that message to children, seniors, and everyone in between, we could increase health awareness of engagement with the assets that are already here.”
Maintaining open space expectations will be a challenge going forward, Pye said.
“We all want open space and retail tax, but you have to have a balance,” Pye said. “We can’t give up open space that helps us get outdoors.”
With seniors living longer, recreational activities are vital to maintaing health and socialization, Pye said.
“South Suburban helps us live long and die short,” Pye said.
Barrett was an elementary school teacher for four years before going into insurance for 31 years, 25 of which were as an agency owner. He has served on several boards or committees, including acting in multiple volunteer roles for South Suburban.
Barrett said he’s looking forward to working on building a proposed new South Suburban facility near David Lorenz Park.
“All of us are going to be involved in the new multigenerational facility, that will include an ice rink, pools gyms, indoor lacrosse and soccer fields,” Barrett said. “It’s a huge project. The challenges on any of these roles is what you don’t have control over. Bond issues that were passed five or more years ago have become insufficient because of labor shortages and construction costs. In the short term, three years or less, we don’t see an abatement of that. The availability of quality contractors and quality workers will be very challenging.”
Barrett said overall things are going very well for South Suburban.
“The big thing for people to know is this is a great parks and recreation district,” Barrett said. “I’m very excited for this opportunity. I don’t take this lightly and I’m really looking forward to this.”
Lawful is retired from 38 years of program management and system engineering in the aerospace industry. His many volunteer activities include serving as chairman of the Lone Tree Citizens Recreation Advisory Committee. Lawful said he was an outspoken proponent for ballot measures 4B and 4C in 2017, which helped secure long-term funding for the district.
“One of the great things about campaigning is I’ve learned even more about South Suburban,” Lawful said. “One of the things I would like to see our staff and board bring back is the recognition that we’re a Gold Medal caliber organization, as recognized by the National Recreation and Parks Association.”
Lawful said he’d like to work with the nonprofit South Suburban Park Foundation to focus on trails.
“When we’ve talked to people around the district, something that often comes up as a priority is trail connectivity,” Lawful said. “I’d love to see more of that happen. Another thing is wayfinding on the trails. South Suburban did anexcellent job with the City of Littleton on signage on the Mary Carter Greenway. They’re more than cool because they give you so much info at a glance. The tell you where the nearest restroom or water fountain or turn onto another trail is. I’d like to see our signage enhanced.”
Lawful said he hopes people take advantage of the amenities in their midst.
“When you get up in the morning and wonder what you should do today, think of South Suburban. There’s probably something fun and healthful you haven’t tried before.”
Lawful said he hopes district residents make themselves heard.
“Reach out to the South Suburban staff and board, and let us know what you think,” Lawful said. “If you believe that a change or priority needs to be different, the only way to get it rolling is to let us know.”
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