School board hears arguments for gym use

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— In two weeks the Steamboat Springs School Board will decide the fate of The Steamboat Gymnastics Center's proposal for a 12-month lease in the school district's administrative offices.

At Monday night's school board study session, board members agreed to decide whether the Parks and Recreation Department's youth basketball program should remain in the Eighth Street Gym for three months out of the year with Steamboat Gymnastics using the gym the other nine months out of the year.

Superintendent Cyndy Simms told Dan and Rose Atkins, owners of Steamboat Gymnastics, that in order for them to use the facilities for 12 months, they would need to find another location for the Parks and Rec youth basketball program. City Manager Paul Hughes said Steamboat Gymnastics' proposal to use the Christian Heritage School gym is unacceptable.

"We don't think moving outside city limits is viable," Hughes said to the board. "We know the city needs another gym, but this is a terrible time to start talking about building another facility."

Simms told the school board Monday night she and District Facilities Director Rick Denney believe they want to stick with the agreement that the school district and the city of Steamboat Springs created in December 1999.

Simms said the city and the district agreed that instead of writing checks back and forth, the two groups would trade uses of certain facilities and fields.

Rose Atkins said the district should look at operating like a business.

However, Denney said the school district cannot be run like a business because it provides youth programs and youth education.

"I don't see this as a financial decision," Denney said. "We don't operate in a black-and-white business."

Simms and Denney suggested all parties working together should support building a recreation center in town where all programs can exist.

Chris Wilson, director of parks, open space and recreational services for the city, wrote in a letter to the board that the city needs to maintain three goals for a gym: safety/quality, affordability and location for the entire public to use.

The Atkinses said they should be included within the entire public criteria because their clientele consists of public school students.

"Parks and Rec is flooding our public schools with their programs," Rose Atkins said. "We're not trying to upset a city and school district relationship."

The Atkinses said moving $50,000 worth of equipment into storage for three months is not equitable because they already pay $30,000 in rent for the use of the facility every year.

Steamboat Gymnastics caters to a number of child-care programs, ice skaters, cheerleaders and Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club athletes, among many others, in the Eighth Street Gym.

"Maybe the basketball league needs to take a break to find the right place," Rose Atkins said.

Hughes said the city's mission is to provide the residents of Steamboat with accessibility to city programs within the city, and transporting the city's youth basketball program to the Christian Heritage School would put them outside of city limits.

"That's where I am on that," Hughes said.

Board President Paul Fisher said the issue is not about the importance of the programs but finding space for both right now.

"Gymnastics serves children and students of Steamboat Springs, but (Steamboat Gymnastics) is not a school program," Fisher said. "I think either the community builds a rec center or Dan and Rose build their own building."

In other business, the school board unanimously elected Pat Gleason to replace Gary Buchan's position as director. At the Nov. 12 school board meeting, Buchan accepted his position on the school board but regretfully resigned due to a job relocation in Maryland. Gleason will take over his position when Buchan resigns officially Dec. 31.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 17.

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