Chapman: More Thoughts On The REC Thingy

By Ralph E. Chapman
Bon Vivant Paleontologist

I have some post facto thoughts about the REC bond stuff, building on comments from before and after the vote. I hope the tone of this note, like that of the recent note by Shin, et al. (hey, I’m a scientist, so I cite like one), this link helps set a mood for the presumed on-going discussion of this topic.

I’ll start with my background with recreational facilities within municipalities. My experience is from the late 50’s through the mid 1970’s in Milford (CT) on the coast between Bridgeport and New Haven. It certainly affects the way I view our current situation. The rest of my experience is from the various places I have lived.

In Milford, we did have some sports facilities that were put in place by the cities/towns involved in the area (like here). There were specified areas with various baseball fields that were expected to serve softball as well. They were mostly very informal with only one really well (well-ish) set-up field for the Little League to play on.

We also had tennis courts distributed around. We also used them, at times, to play street hockey on and various other things (sometimes with permission). Some basketball areas also were there, although not as many as you see these days

The rest of the facilities were associated with schools or businesses and were sometimes available for non-school functions, but very often not (officially).

Most of the non-organized  sports that we played happened on miscellaneous fields that were around in the neighborhoods. We never knew who owned them but just went there. Other times, we played on the established fields that we could either grab or, rarely, officially arrange to use. Often it took a while to find one and the quality was amazingly variable.

Schick was a company that had a plant in Milford, and they had a baseball field we could use. The fact that it had discarded razor blades strewn all over it (true!) was just something to account for and we were all smart enough to avoid sliding into bases when we played there. It led to lots of sardonic humor during those times.

As an aside, Schick supported our short-lived Milford ice hockey team that I played on for a year. Actually, they committed money and pulled out before the start of the season, so we were still the Milford Razors but still had to pay for everything ourselves. There were very few rinks around, so we paid for practice time when we could afford it and, often, had to go a long way to get there.

We often practiced on a rink in Norwalk (CT) called the Crystal Rink. It was very nice but, oddly, had a skylight. When we would practice during the hot summers, often at 2 or 3 in the morning to save money, the built-up heat from the skylight would lead to fog banks on the ice. Often you could not see the opposing goal from the other end and would just hear the advancing skaters well before you could see them (I was a left defenseman). It was pretty mondo when we were dog-tired and playing at 2:30 in the morning.

Anyway, the point of all this is that, when I grew up, we really had to deal with a lot just to get to practice and play whatever sports we did. It’s a great memory for me, but was an ongoing puzzle to solve at the time.

Now you may take from this that I am going to suggest that the people here have it soft and should be happy with what they have. Me as a stereotypical geezer (Hey Kids, get off my lawn!) But I really don’t have a lawn and I don’t feel that way.

I really think the value of living in a community is to be part of something; to work towards improving things so everyone enjoys the camaraderie of our home. Most of the stuff we’re talking about I will never use much, or at all. Nevertheless, I did somewhere in the past and feel citizens should work to improve things that others improved when we were young and unable to.

The proposal by Shin, et al. (see above) to take the money available right now and fix the golf course and other current facilities that we have that need it is a good one. Let’s, indeed, do that.

I will play golf and would enjoy seeing the course get needed and delayed improvements and fixes. I won’t play tennis anymore (might as well just mail my knees into the orthopedic surgeon if I do), but, if the traffic is there, let’s fix anything that needs fixing at the courts and consider adding some more, if appropriate.

I have also heard some of the baseball facilities need changes to allow them to serve for tournaments and league play. That is reasonable and probably is essential to keep the County competitive with other areas.

Also, I would suggest that ice skating is a year-round activity in most places, and improving our rink facilities would be the only way to make that happen here. If we do go forward, just remember the skylight problem.

Then, let’s really have a serious discussion on what facilities will serve us best and are a reasonable expenditure to optimize the enjoyment of our citizenry.

I also think we need to think about redoubling our efforts on advertising the positive aspects of having facilities this high in altitude as, perhaps, a draw for business/visitors. I think this may be better received now than 5 or 10 years ago.

I will admit that I know virtually nothing about our pool facilities, especially the big center up top, and do not anticipate using them. None of my friends are big swimmers (Actually, we have a great couple who are, but they live in Valencia, Spain, and who wouldn’t be there) so I really don’t have a pipeline of info.

Given the bond and all the discussions of it, and from previous efforts on pools, it is obvious we really have a bi- or multi-modal distribution of opinions on this issue and, perhaps, making the discussions really focus on this one aspect may help. I would hope those doing it will enter these discussions with some flexibility.

Or, that may be what has been going on and we are permanently stalled. I didn’t say I had all the answers. I do know I know little about pools.

But let’s keep working to make Los Alamos a great place to live.

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