The Steamboat Springs City Council said yes to a $2.15 million tennis-bubble replacement project, but with a caveat the tennis community contribute $359,216 in private donations.
At Tuesday night's meeting, council members said they saw the need for replacing the dilapidated bubble, but were worried the project would cost more than what was budgeted for in October.
City Council President Paul Strong proposed that the city not start construction on the new frame and fabric tennis facility until the private donations were in place. Engineering and architecture work could start before then.
"I have always said we need to take care of our infrastructure. It would be a shame to let (the tennis bubble) fall down," Strong said. "I am in support of this. My one caveat is ... not to start construction until we have all the money in hand to do it."
The $2.1 million cost was more than the council had anticipated. Although the council had yet to agree to funding the replacement project at its October budget hearing, it earmarked $1.98 million for the tennis facility. It anticipated the tennis community would raise one-sixth, or close to $360,000, of the cost through private donations.
Tennis Center Director Jim Swiggart said that in the past seven weeks, the tennis committee raised more than half of the donations. Whitney Ward, a real estate developer who owns the adjacent Wildhorse Meadows, made a $100,000 contribution to the fund.
On Oct. 12, the council tabled its decision on the project, asking for more information about how the improvements would affect annual budgets and asking the tennis committee to look at partnerships with other groups.
"The scrutiny from council is just now beginning," Council member Kathy Connell said. "I fully support taking care of what we have. I think it is self-evident not to just support what we have, but to support how we can make it successful by adding the courts and making it a world-class facility."
Swiggart told the council Tuesday that the city's annual subsidy would drop from $131,500 to $101,428 if the new facility is built and two more courts are added. If the facility remains at four courts, the subsidy would be $88,220.
The upgraded facility would generate more revenue, but the major cost benefit would be the reduction in the costs of heating.
"I am anxious to see if we can sustain this $100,000 subsidy level. That would be nice," Councilman Ken Brenner said.
Swiggart also said the tennis committee looked into having other groups use the new facility. Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, wrote a letter to the council indicating that the chamber could use the space for exhibitions, large banquets and indoor concert venues. Swiggart said summer use by the chamber is feasible.
In conversations with Steamboat Ski Corp., Swiggart said, officials indicated they no longer had an appetite for rock concerts, and would not need a facility such as the tennis center.
In the Oct. 12 presentation, the tennis committee gave four alternatives for replacing the tennis bubble. The options ranged in cost from a $1.2 million proposal to resurface the existing four courts and not add more courts, to a $2.1 million proposal, recommended by the replacement committee, to resurface the existing clay courts and add two additional courts.
The city approved the $2.1 million plan to replace the cloth tennis bubble, which is kept up by air, with a framed structure that has a fabric outer layer. The fabric sides would roll up in the summer to let in cool air. The proposal also includes having new heating, lighting and insulation and building bathrooms accessible to people with disabilities, a viewing area, offices, a meeting room and additional storage.
In other council business:
n Councilman Loui Antonucci said the new Yampa Valley Housing Authority's executive director, Jayne Garcia, has resigned from the position for health reasons.
n The city has received nine applications for its seven-member Steamboat Springs Water Commission, but it is looking for another applicant from the Mount Werner Water District. The council appointed council members Susan Dellinger, Steve Ivancie, Ken Brenner and Kathy Connell to serve on its interview committee.
n The council voted to support sending a letter to the Colorado Department of Transportation indicating that the city was not in favor of a traffic light at U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 131.
n The council approved becoming a co-applicant with other local municipalities for the Visiting Nurse Association's request for a $650,000 Energy Impact Grant to purchase The Haven Senior Assisted Living Center. The council tabled the VNA's request to give $50,000 for the project.
n The council approved donating a 1978 flush truck in its public works department to the Yampa Fire District.
n The council approved the first reading of an ordinance to purchase 15 acres from the Union Pacific Railroad. The land is along or underneath the Yampa River and runs from the Stock Bridge Transit Center to the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge.
n The council approved a resolution discontinuing the commercial enterprise zone program.
n The council denied an appeal from Curtis McCullough, who was asking for the council to allow a circular driveway into his home along Fish Creek Falls Road.
n The council approved the second reading of an ordinance regulating the construction of private drives.
n The council approved a resolution appointing the 2004/2005 Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. Contribution Committee.
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