Path Speak: Open bogs and protected playgrounds stay essential |

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Thrifty or cheap — what’s the difference?

I would argue “thrifty” is being careful with money and making every dollar stretch as far as it can. Thrifty includes investing wisely today to maximize assets for the long term.

“Cheap” is finding ways to ignore, cut corners and shirk financial responsibility in order to hold on to dollars today.

Out of necessity, the current pandemic requires a shift in the overall approach to spending money. While sales tax revenue is coming in better than expected, it is still below 2019 collections and it is possible some local establishments will go out of business in the months to come. Tough decisions are being made daily by individuals and families.

An example: bathrooms. Bathrooms matter to people using trails, parks and open spaces. At a recent parks board meeting, we learned that many bathrooms were being closed early in city parks due to budget cuts. We also learned that some residents are actually stepping up and “paying” to keep their neighborhood park bathroom open.

While I’m sure their neighbors and park users are grateful, this makes me uncomfortable for several reasons. Should one of the most livable cities in the country rely on residents to subsidize bathrooms? And what about those areas in the community where neighbors can’t afford to subsidize bathrooms for parks?

Colorado Springs’ parks, trails and open spaces continue to be essential to the physical and mental health of our community, even as the weather gets colder. Bundled-up families can still play on playgrounds and explore the city’s amazing parks.

Open bathrooms and safe playgrounds remain critical if we are going to stay healthy as a community. Leaders at every level of government have tough decisions to make. As you focus on “necessities,” necessary rooms need to be part of the conversation.

Davies is executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition.

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