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Our Opinion: Building parks and rec

October 16, 2001

The El Centro City Council recently appointed Marty Tracey as Parks and Recreation Department director after he served as economic development specialist for the city over the past year.

We applaud the council for filling the parks and recreation position after it was left vacant for far too long. There are some good, hard-working people who handle parks and handle recreation for the city but it makes sense to have one person at the helm responsible for reporting to the city manager, the council and the public.

Tracey recently voiced some of his goals as he takes on the new position. His goals include melding the parks and recreation services and improve the aesthetics of the parks. That is a good start, and some of the parks certainly need work, but there is more to be done toward enhancing parks and recreation in the city.

While police and fire departments are essential in protecting public safety, a city's parks and recreation department is crucial to keep kids busy with positive, fun and educational activities so they stay out of trouble.

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The city of El Centro has a good parks and recreation program but it could be better. We would like to see the creation of more youth sporting activities sponsored by the city and more utilization of the parks with organized activities, including for adults. Such activities have gone in fits and starts in recent years.

There is a lot that can be done with parks and recreation. Much of it requires a great deal of money and that is always an issue. However, the right person at the reins of such a department can take what little funds there are and create some positive results.

Those who have been working for years on both the recreation and the parks sides have given our kids some fine places in which to play, namely the Conrad Harrison Youth Center at the corner of Adams and Eighth streets and the El Centro Community Center on First Street. Both facilities have good programs for kids.

We think with one person in charge, the two centers can become more connected and the parks around the cities can become the arms of the centers. It is worth looking at all that can be done, not only for kids but teen-agers, adults and seniors.

It's a matter of improving quality of life, and when that quality is high a city sees growth and development. We wish Tracey luck as he goes about trying to achieve his goals and serve the community.

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