58°F
weather icon Clear

Quality of life worth every penny

In addition to small-town charm, Boulder City’s spectacular quality-of-life amenities are among the main things that attract people to live here and visit us.

But we often take our amenities for granted, sometimes assuming that they’re free just because the full cost isn’t directly charged back to us.

Our library, senior center, airport, schools and hospital are prime examples. Unlike utilities, you and I don’t receive a monthly invoice reminding us to pay for those. And although we might not regularly use all of them, just imagine how different Boulder City would be without even one.

Our Parks and Recreation Department manages many other low-cost amenities. Our swimming pool, parks, golf courses, recreation center, fitness facilities, gyms, community gardens and ABC classrooms come to mind.

You and I use many of those cost-free or only for a nominal fee. But my service on City Council frequently reminded me that they aren’t free. Each one costs a pretty penny to build and maintain.

Take Veterans’ Memorial Park, for instance. Its 19.5 acres of turf take about 14.5 hours and over $700 to mow each time. Powering those facilities and lighting the fields can exceed $30 to $45 per day. And daily water costs for the ballfields, fish ponds, splash park, restrooms and general irrigation approach $300 or more.

Those costs might seem small when viewed microscopically. But they add up to over $100,000 in utilities annually, plus tens of thousands more for maintenance.

And that’s just one park. Multiply those figures many times over to account for scores of other amazing parks and recreation facilities.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Without these facilities, we could never market our town as “A World Away for a Day” or “Clean, Green Boulder City.” And but for these awesome amenities, many of us would never have moved our families here or chosen to remain.

Public service regularly reminded me that there’s a constant tug-of-war between balancing the budget and providing first-class amenities to our community. Much of that happens behind the scenes, but recently we’ve all seen the struggle play out in high-profile fashion with our pool.

Should we build a new aquatics center to replace our outdated one? And if so, what should it include and how many millions are we willing to spend on a facility that we know will never pay for itself?

On a smaller scale, I’ve repeatedly heard coaches and parents question why the city charges practice field fees and up to $50 an hour for lights. The answer should be obvious given the cost of maintenance and utilities mentioned above. Plus, the city already subsidizes Boulder City Little League about $25,000 per season to make fields available for games. It also discounts practice field fees for local teams, charging nonresidents more. Exemptions are available to local nonprofits as well.

So, the real question that I think I’m hearing is, shouldn’t the city just make our fields available to locals for free? After all, like the pool, we know that user fees will never even come close to covering all costs anyway. That’s a legitimate question that defies easy answers. And one that’s more complex than it superficially might appear.

Waiving fees for residents is certainly a policy decision our city leaders could make if deemed important enough to our citizens. Nonprofits and outside sources might also step up to help cover costs. It really just comes down to how strongly we feel about the trade-off between pinching every penny, on one hand, versus providing low-cost quality-of-life amenities, on the other.

One thing I know for sure is that our parks and recreation staff does an exceptional job of balancing their limited budget and still providing stellar programs and amenities to our citizens.

Post-COVID golf course revenues are up again, and special events like Art in the Park have come back strong. Our gyms have been converted to LED lights, many parks have been upgraded to include sensory playground equipment, and soon we can expect pickleball lines at the Broadbent Park tennis courts and extra concrete behind the Whalen Field bleachers where baseball fans can enjoy games from their lawn chairs.

I understand the need for turf reduction and drought-tolerant landscaping in underused areas. I understand that generally projects should be self-sustaining and pay for themselves.

And I understand that fiscal responsibility should always be a top priority. But let’s not overdo it with extreme austerity or forget that many indirect benefits flow to our citizens and businesses from our fabulous amenities and clean, green image. The slogan “Brown Town” doesn’t sound too attractive, and I doubt anyone will visit us for Art in the Wilderness. So, please join me in doing all we can to support our Parks and Recreation Department and keep Boulder City clean, green and attractive for generations to come.

The opinions expressed above belong solely to the author and do not represent the views of the Boulder City Review. They have been edited solely for grammar, spelling and style, and have not been checked for accuracy of the viewpoints.

Rod Woodbury has resided in Boulder City for more than 40 years and is the president and managing shareholder of his law firm, Woodbury Law. He served on the City Council from 2011- 2019, including four years as mayor.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
City’s past, future tied to lake

Lake Mead, the gem in Boulder City’s backyard, is losing its gleam.

Set goals for community, as a community

As a not so closeted optimist, I like to think about those things I’ve succeeded in and, because I hate the word “failed,” those things that I haven’t succeeded in during the new year. This year I worked my butt off, I read a ton of books, I wrote a lot of stories, I had one published and few opinions posted here. I went to some cool places and met some incredible people and taught a few classes of amazing people.

Shift to even-year elections produces some oddities

Our newest City Council members, Sherri Jorgensen and Matt Fox, took office only six months ago. So, it might seem much too early to start talking about city elections again. But this year marks a major change in Boulder City’s election cycle: a shift from odd-year elections to even-year elections. In other words, past city elections were held in odd-numbered years (for example, 2017, 2019 and 2021), but beginning this year they’ll take place in even years (2022, 2024 and so on).

Stick it to me

I’m in heaven today. That’s because it’s National Sticker Day. It’s a day that I can happily pay tribute to one of my favorite obsessions: stickers.

Reid was true friend to city

Few people know of the genius of Sen. Harry Reid. I was fortunate to get to know him from my position as mayor and council member of Boulder City. He was available to Boulder City residents and the citizens of Nevada regardless of which party they were affiliated with. I consider him to have been a friend.

Resolve to avoid resolutions

A new year. A new you. Making New Year’s resolutions to improve yourself or your life is a tradition that dates back thousands of years.

Path to move forward clear

I want to wish all the residents of Boulder City a new year that brings better times and allows us to move beyond the challenges and struggles we have had in the past year and more. We are tired and frustrated from the pandemic that has caused hardship and, for many, personal loss.

Memories made as time flies by

There are only a few hours left in 2021 and I don’t know how the others passed so quickly. It seems the older I get, the faster days fly by.

‘Twas the baking before Christmas

A few years ago, many readers commented how much they enjoyed my column about holiday baking and requested that I make this an annual tradition. Though my holiday baking has since expanded into the entire month of December so that more family and friends can enjoy the fruits of my labor, the true spirit of the message remains. I promise to stay knee-deep in flour, sugar and spices, and wish all a sweet holiday season and new year.

Diversity more systemic than racism

We live in the greatest country in the entire world. It has many inequalities and a number of negative attributes, but these are an exception, not the norm.