Community leader team meeting

Members of the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District community and district board working together at a community leader team meeting in the Sunset Recreation Center on Monday.

The author, longshoreman and philosopher Eric Hoffer wrote, “A busy life is the nearest thing to a purposeful life”.

While I can appreciate moments of relaxation and even occasional idleness, my days are purposefully filled with opportunities, conversations, and growth.

Though I cannot recall a time in my employment history with the Sunset Empire Park & Recreation District in which I was not busy, my schedule in recent months has intensified. There is always work to do and so much of my work revolves around networking, communicating and listening.

One of those opportunities has come about lately and has been an energizing and productive portion of my schedule.

The Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District Board of Directors has developed several strategies and priorities since the district took ownership of the Sunset Recreation Center in January.

Above all, they have wanted to help the community become more aware of the opportunities that could come because of that acquisition and they sincerely desire to listen to our community and provide services and programs that benefit all our residents and guests.

The board formed three community leader teams to correlate with their three priorities in assessing the opportunities of the SRC: recreation for all, sports tourism and child care and youth programs.

Those teams were formed with strategic requested involvement from community leaders in those specific areas. The teams formed and have been meeting for the past few weeks. The results of that process have been dynamic, fruitful, and inspiring.

Team members include elected officials like Seaside city councilors and local business owners that have helped us evaluate how sports tourism can benefit our local economy. They have included representatives from local nonprofits like Lower Columbia Youth Soccer Association, Pacific Basketball League and Seaside Kids Inc. as well as local artists and photographers as we look at what the building can offer to enhance wellness and recreation through creative programming. And they have included parents, school administrators and other folks who serve the children and youth of our community.

These teams have met with open discussions and conversations about the potential of the SRC, which has been incredibly helpful for the board and staff. Great ideas have been circulated and while there are unique perspectives in those meetings, a few themes have emerged:

The community needs more space to serve both our adult population, especially senior citizens, and the youth of our community.

The property is large enough that it can accomplish several objectives including meeting demand for recreation and childcare space but also potentially meeting needs in workforce housing, office space for local nonprofits and space for potential business partners.

It is crucial that the district have the right mix of recreation, wellness, arts and culture and youth programs available, and the property is uniquely situated to accommodate all those objectives.

There are many in our community that have completely supported and endorsed the property acquisition, recognizing the tremendous value and potential that the building has.

These themes have validated the decision to purchase the building by the district board of directors. That decision was reached after a thorough review of the other options available and the condition of the building. From my perspective, the board understood the great potential of the building and were able to effectively measure that potential with any potential challenges that the property would have.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to be busy, productive and have purpose in my professional life and happy to work in a community where we value the opportunity for recreation for all in the future.

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