Inform yourself about the "City of Durango Organically Managed Parks Ordinance"

Submitted by DOC on Fri, 08/03/2012 - 9:02pm

Please feel free to share this information with anyone who might be concerned about the condition of our playing fields or the Hillcrest Golf Course.  Or with anyone who hates mosquitoes and wants to do everything possible to minimize West Nile Virus.

Some of you may already be aware that there is a Citizens Initiative regarding Organically Managed Parks.  A petition was circulated at the Farmer’s Market and other areas of Durango and enough signatures were gathered for the proposed ordinance to be an agenda item at the City Council meetings on both August 7th and August 21st.  If this ordinance is rejected by City Council, it will be on the November ballot of all registered City of Durango voters.

Of course, there is probably not a single citizen out there who doesn't want to make sure that our children’s health and welfare is protected, as well as wanting to support a healthy environment. However, the wording of the proposed ordinance is extreme and would eliminate spraying for mosquitoes and allow the populations of prairie dogs, gophers and weeds to take over our playing fields.

This ordinance proposes that all City owned or leased properties be treated in the same way.  Suggesting that trails through City owned natural lands and our in town turf fields could be managed in the same way.  Perhaps if the goal is to have our turf fields look like “natural lands” this would work, but the City and DYSA have worked very hard and spent considerable money to develop quality playing fields for the enjoyment and safety of our children.

Both of the City’s Land Management advisory boards, the Parks and Recreation Board and the Natural Lands Preservation Board unanimously voted to oppose this ordinance.  Here is a list of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board’s concerns:
•    Impact on mosquito control;
•    Effect on Hillcrest Golf Course;
•    Impact on the quality and safety of sports fields;
•    Provision for civil action and liability exposure to the City, including the requirement to pay costs associated  with attorney’s fees;
•    Limited amount of time to consider the cost, safety and effects of chemicals as applied on City parks;
•    Increased fire risk with weed proliferation in the open space; and
•    Preference for a stakeholder process with a broad spectrum of users and a collaborative effort to reach consensus on how the City should move forward in the future on organically managed parks instead of a political process.

The DYSA Board of Directors has taken a stand on this issue and are unanimously opposed to the passing of this Ordinance.  We have read the entire Ordinance and sincerely believe that the wording of Ordinance is too extreme and restrictive.  As a club, there are a few times when we need to take a political stand and NOW IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES.

Please join us in our opposition to the “City of Durango Organically Managed Parks Ordinance” and show up for the City Council meeting on Tuesday August 7th at 6:30pm in the City Hall Council Chambers.  If you would like to address the council, you will have 5 minutes to speak.  Perhaps if we show up in force, the authors of the Ordinance will remove it from consideration and will work toward a more collaborative approach to accomplish their environmental goals. To read the entire ordinance, just Google: Durango Organically Managed Parks Ordinance.