We are so fortunate to live in a truly special and beautiful pocket of this country, which provides each of us with an opportunity to contribute civically and contribute to the democratic process. By now, many of you have already received and perhaps cast your ballots for the upcoming Nov. 6 election.

This election features a string of important decisions for voters throughout our community as they cast their ballots for their preferred candidates for mayor, city councilors, county commissioner and governor. There are also several important measures both locally and throughout our state.

Regardless of your political party or leanings, it’s the opportunity to participate in a truly equitable system that is most amazing.

As you probably know, the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District strives to serve our entire community throughout South County with high-quality recreation programs and facilities. The motivations for issuing the request to our residents to support bond Measure 4-196 are many, and I would like to highlight our rationale below.

• The expansion, if approved by voters, would include the building components most sought after and most necessary for our community — indoor walking track, gymnasium space, fitness space and expanded youth program space.

• The expansion would also allow SEPRD to discontinue renting space for current programs, bringing the entire program offering in-house and offer more robust opportunities for a greater audience.

• We need more spaces in our community to play, particularly when it is wet, windy, cold or dark. Our county features some of the most beautiful places in the world, but it also features double the precipitation and a higher obesity rate than the state or national averages. Where do people go to get their exercise, particularly in the winter months?

• The children in our community need safe spaces to grow, exercise and flourish. It’s not just adults who are heavier than ever before. It’s also our children — who, because of chronic diseases associated with obesity, will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.

• Park and Recreation facilities, just like other public spaces, improve the quality of life for all residents and make the community more livable and viable. Facilities also increase property value, serving as a good investment for a community to make.

• The building would also allow the district to host more programs which are economically beneficial and produce more revenue, which would make SEPRD more self-sustaining.

• The district explored the possibility of acquiring the soon-to-be-vacated Broadway Middle School property, but the acquisition and remodel costs of that project far exceeded the $20 million project contained in Measure 4-196. Therefore, the district is moving forward with this route, the more economical of the options.

• The Sunset Pool would be almost completely untouched in this expansion. The expansion would, however, provide dryland fitness opportunities to complement the pool offerings.

• The district would be able to add multiple additional family changing rooms to accommodate the large number of families served, as well as meeting important inclusive needs for all of our users.

• If approved, the expansion would increase the average property taxes of district residents by less than $10 a month. The bond would expire in 20 years and construction would be completed by 2021 or 2022.

SEPRD will host its final community forum on at 5 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Bob Chisholm Community Center. I encourage you to come and find out more information about this project, which could transform this community and our overall health.

Skyler Archibald is executive director of the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District.

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