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South Suburban candidates make pitches as election nears

Things are largely going well, hopefuls say; ice arena hot topic

Posted

Stay the course. That was the theme at the second of two public forums with candidates for open seats on the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District Board of Directors.

Voters will choose three new members for South Suburban’s five-member board May 8. Board members John Ostermiller, Michael Anderson and Pamela Eller are departing. Nine candidates are vying for the three seats.

Of those nine, six attended the candidate forum April 26 at the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce in Centennial: Jerry Bakke, Pete Barrett, Dan Purse, Dave Lawful, Susan Pye and Tom Wood. Candidates Charlie Blosten, Michael Kohut and Jeff Monroe were unable to attend.

The candidates agreed that South Suburban – which oversees parks, trails, recreation centers and league sports for Littleton, Lone Tree, Sheridan, much of Centennial and some other parts of the south metro area – is well regarded.

“I commend the current board and executive director and everyone who works for South Suburban,” Jerry Bakke said. “I think the public is very happy.”

Maintaining public satisfaction with the district requires teamwork, Pete Barrett said.

“The board is incredibly important for oversight, policy setting and strategy,” Barrett said. “We’ll be working together with senior management. The board does not do the job of the staff. One of the things you learn when you’re on boards and committees, is that playing together nicely is important, like kindergarten.”

A proposed new ice rink got some attention, particularly from Dan Purse, who is also a hockey coach at Heritage High School.

“I get pegged as a one-trick pony because I’m so concerned with the new ice arena,” Purse said. “Currently, the plan is to replace the current rink, with two sheets of ice, with another with two sheets. I think that’s a step backward. We have to consider three, which would allow for national championships.”

There are still a lot of kinks to be worked out in the ice arena proposal, Dave Lawful said.

“I don’t think there’s been a hard decision yet on whether it’s two or three sheets of ice,” Lawful said. “Three are more likely if we can work with other hockey entity for funding.”

It’s important not to underestimate the scale of the ice arena project, said Tom Wood.

“It’s a concern because construction costs are skyrocketing in the Denver area,” Wood said. “Just getting engineers and construction folks will be a real challenge.”

Overall, the board has strong direction to work from, said Susan Pye.

“The best part of joining the board is that we have a master plan and strategic plan,” Pye said. “We will have a roadmap to follow through to keep our district in good health with great opportunities for all.”

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