Where Have All the Children Gone?

March 14, 2017

By Mesa Messenger staff

Christina Martin

Jessica Feilmeier

Michael Madic

There has been much debate over the whether or not Grand Junction Colorado  needs a community center or not. In fact it’s been a 40 year long  battle that some of the local residents have been fighting to simply get on the ballot.

Many residents wonder why there hasn’t been a community center built in this area. We set out to really see what the buzz was about and why it’s taken so many years to get the ball rolling on something that can give our community a positive outlet.

Grand junction has been increasing in size every year. This is due to a larger retirement community and  of the ever-growing Colorado Mesa University. In the last few years Grand Junction has seen an increase of over 2,000 people moving into the area. The climate in Grand Junction is what drives many people to move here and is a beacon to many outdoor enthusiasts. So, what do you do if you are not interested in these things? Or what if you have children that need something positive to do instead of being sucked into their tv or tablet all day? Not to mention our retirement community doesn’t have many options.This is where the community center would play a crucial role on the Western Slope. Why haven’t we seen one built yet?

When asking students around Colorado Mesa University in town we heard a lot of “We don’t have one yet? I would totally use something like that in town.”

We spoke with Janet Rowland the former County Commissioner. She states “During this time we have chosen to do different things with taxpayers money and it doesn’t seem to drive revenue like we would like to think.”

She later explains that during her time as County Commissioner she choose to vote toward things that needed to be taken care of at the time.

They only real answer that we could find is that Grand Junction City council  is aiming their sights more revenue producing options.

The City Council is proposing a special event center that would be added to Two Rivers Convention Center. This is a $62 million dollar proposal  that would be funded by a sales tax increase of a quarter percent. The vision is that this venue would sponsor concerts and endless amounts of sporting events that would drive revenue. This is a great idea for driving revenue and reaching a certain demographic, but is that something you would want to just send your kids too during the day, or as a senior want to go and spend time to get out of the house? Its doubtful that many would be on board with it. No doubt the debate is a heated one.

Anne Landman has a very passionate view. She is a part of a Grand Junction group called PLACE. PLACE is a citizen based group that is trying a different way to get the word out on a community center within the valley. They view their tactics as a grassroots effort that involves talking to the community and asking the real question,”Would you like to see a community center in Grand Junction?”

PLACE has found  an overwhelming big yes to this question. Our community WANTS to have a place for all ages to go. Anne explains that not only having a community center benefits the people going, but it helps the areas around them as well as being an attraction to people coming in and out of town.  We do have tourism in the valley but why would a family come here other than to be outdoors?

Anne states “With Denver and Salt Lake being just a hop and skip away there is no draw here other then drawing attention  to what we already have. By having this center it would be our own rainy day fund for our out of towners.”

This is not to mention what it would do for every one that currently lives here, opening up more avenues of recreation for people of all ages. A recreation center could provide more of a place to go other than a bar to meet people in their 20’s or, 30’s, and offer some fun social time for the senior citizens.

Cody Johnson a graduate from CMU states “I know if there was  a chance for me to play in a recreational league of some sort I would be super excited to be apart of that. I know that the money I pay would go towards something great in this community.”

Most recently Fruita, Colorado and Montrose, Colorado have opened new community centers within the last five years of each other. Each have experienced an increase in jobs and revenue in the areas where they are built. Its incredible to think that two towns much smaller than ours can invest in centers that are so welcomed in their communities.

We went to the Fruita Community Center and talked to some of the local members.

Joy Giles a single mom with 3 boys under the age of 10 had just finished swimming. She stated “It’s wonderful as a mom on a boring Saturday afternoon to just gather them up and run some energy off. They can do more than swim if they want to. They have a lot of options to give us.”

Many are curious about how much of a tax increase this would cause the Community and after talking with many of the PLACE members they have figured out that it would be a $17 dollar a year for taxpayers. That’s a much different cost than the $30 dollars a year that the new Events Center would cost.

Not matter how you look at it we believe that there needs to be leadership and support for a Grand Junction Community Center. It’s time for us to come together as a community to make a difference for the people of Mesa County.



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