Well, one may wonder if I have been to busy to keep this up lately, but the reality is, I am really just lazy. I always use the holidays as an excuse to just not do much of anything. But, I suppose that’s all behind us now. We took the tree down last weekend and life has gotten back to normal.

A few weeks ago…back in 2009…we had a bit of an event here in Ely that I guess I was involved with to some degree. This is how is came out in the Ely Echo: Rec center opening

The “Grand Opening”, as they called it, was really sort of a non-event. I mean there were a lot of people there, (though noticeably only a couple city council members), but “Grand Opening” usually implies that the place will now be open to be used for what it is intended to be used for…and this is not. We have the ice rink flooded and the warming room area open and the city has hired rink attendants, but the youth facility aspect of it will probably not be functioning for a while. I still joke with Chris Ismil, (IRYA Director),  that in five years the windows will be boarded up and the city will park street cleaning equipment in there and it will be an almost forgotten standing joke…then I thank him for throwing my name around at this “Grand Opening”, so that I will forever be connected with this project. A connection that I had been seeking to keep as far removed from the public eye as possible. Sometimes I feel like it was the final manipulative move to force me to be tied in to the project forever. I’m not sure if Chris contemplates things to that degree, but the effect, intentional or not, is the same.

It is a good project, though, and I am glad to be a part of it, although it is interesting to see the lack of support from the city on something like this. I understand their concern. At a time of an extreme city budget crisis, the last thing they want is another building to heat and maintain, even if it didn’t cost them anything to build, (all the money for the building was raised from outside the cities funds, except for some “in-kind” serviced that they had to supply to satisfy some grant requirements). But there seems to be a lack of foresight on the part of the city council members, (all of them except one).

It seems to me that to make a community grow, to entice young families to move here, we need facilities for young people. There isn’t even a public place in town to go shoot some baskets right now, and this was the intent, to make something nice for young folks where they can hang out, ice skate, play basketball, skateboard and even play pool or ping pong. To me, the construction of a facility like this just seems to make good sense. It is too bad the place they chose to set aside for this project is such a poor location, (and now they are all complaining about it), but it is what it is and we all have to just make a go of it at this point.

The other day I was there and one of our local police officers came by and asked how things were going. Of course, like most police officers, he never got out of his heated vehicle, just rolled the window down to chat. It was a short chat and as he started driving away, he shook his head and said, “what a waste of money”. It seems to me that that pretty much sums up the feelings of the entire police force and city council, (again, except one). Though they all give it lip service, I feel, for the most part, their hearts are not with it.
The mayor, Roger Scraba, is on board, but he is a true politician who will say whatever he has to to make himself look good. He is a nice guy, I like Roger, but, if it threatened to hurt him politically, he would probably dump our project pretty quickly.

The one council person who s the exception to the rule here is Councilwoman Omerza. She has young kids herself so actually has some interest in the future generations of Ely. She has put a great deal of time and effort into this project, (on top of all the other projects she has going), and has been pretty much our only real ally on the city council. I am glad she is strong and smart enough to go up against the “good-ol’-boy” stone wall because I certainly am not and probably would have walked away from this a while ago with a hopeless shrug.

It seems like we have come a long way with this project, and as burned out as we are feeling, I am realizing just how far it has to go. In order for it to become what it is intended to be, it needs to take some legs of it’s own, an I don’t think there is much I can do to facilitate that, so I will just have to keep doing what I have been doing and hope for the best.

I have learned a few good things from my experiences here. An important one is that working on something is a whole lot more enjoyable when you take money out of the equation. I wish all of my work could be for little or no pay. I try not to pretend to have altruistic motives here, I believe I am a selfish person, I just enjoy the work more that way.

And, as much as I like to work alone and do things myself, to my surprise, I find I come away from something like this with the acquaintance of a handful of good people, some quite young and some much older, and one or two really good friends.

Good friends are hard to come by in this life, and no matter how this project plays out over the next five or ten or twenty years, those are the important things I want to take with me over the long run. As sappy as that sounds, sometimes it just is what it is…

…and in the end…

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