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Activist decries lack of funding for parks and open spaces

Requests for personnel denied
Construction on St Vrain Creek (3 of 3)
Construction work at St Vrain Creek, part of Longmont's Izaak Walton Reach 1 from Boston Ave Bridge


The city’s proposed $414 million budget includes a huge gap for the city’s natural and open space areas, a local environmental activist said this week..

Shari Malloy, who is a member of Stand with Our St. Vrain Creek, said she was surprised when the group learned that the city’s Public Works and Natural Resources division has requested six new personnel but none of those positions were recommended in the city’s 2023 budget.

“What positions make the cut seems quite subjective,” Malloy told the council during the public invited to be heard portion of the council study session. “Is a rubric used or what criteria is applied and by who? Seems there should be a committee with clear guidelines for determining needs and priorities.”

City staff is recommending almost 29 new FTE, or full time equivalent, positions and increasing pay to better retain city employees, Malloy said. “These new positions include eight in public safety, almost two for Art in Public Places, over two in recreation, and others like the neighborhood program, broadband, sanitation, streets and more.”

“Twenty nine in all … yet (Natural Resources) get nothing,” Malloy said.

The positions requested by Natural Resources include two project managers to help build planned city parks and also design management plans for open spaces for Dickens Farm Nature Area, the entire St. Vrain Greenway and many others, Malloy said. 

Another request was for a fire ecologist. “A fire ecologist is self-explanatory after 1,000 homes were destroyed last December” in the Marshall Fire, she said.

Heavy usage in open spaces in Longmont is leading to damaged trees and other problems that need proper care, Malloy said. “When doing my shift at Dickens last Sunday, I counted 29 dead trees and 27 severely struggling/near dead treets,” she said. “Like typical infrastructure, open spaces require adequate staffing for managing, maintaining and educating the public to protect our investment,” she said.

The proposed 2023 budget for public works and natural resources is $7.5 million, a boost over the 2022 budget of $6.8 million. Councilors did not answer Malloy’s statements directly but Marcia Martin praised residents who spoke out about environmental concerns at Tuesday's meeting.