Process focus of meeting

City hosts second public discussion about community center

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The city of Steamboat Springs on Thursday will host the second public meeting exploring possible uses for a new community center.

The current facility will be removed if voters in November approve a property tax increase aimed at expanding nearby Bud Werner Memorial Library in the community center's place.

The East Routt Library District Board will request a 1.4-mill levy increase for 20 years to fund an $11.4 million bond for the project and a smaller mill levy to fund operations of the expanded library.

The Steamboat Springs City Council in July pledged that Routt County seniors would not lose the current facility until a new one has been built.

The Routt County Council on Aging hosts regular meals and activities for seniors at the community center. Other primary users include the American Legion, which helped fund the current facility, and the city Parks and Recreation Department.

The community center, built in 1980, is about 4,200 square feet. City officials estimate a new facility would be 7,000 to 8,000 square feet and would cost about $1.5 million, Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said.

City-owned land directly north of the Stock Bridge Transit Center has been discussed as a potential site for a new community center. Possible funding would come from grants, the city's general fund and the library district -- though the mill-levy proposals are exclusively for the library expansion project.

In addition to building a facility that will better serve groups with more space, better access and parking and other details, city staff want to know what other users and uses may be compatible with current programs at the community center.

More than 75 residents, including parents, seniors, health and human service representatives and city and county officials, weighed in on that question at a meeting last month.

In addition to meetings and classes, residents said a new community center also might accommodate arts, crafts and music programs, games, city-sponsored after-school and summer programs, workforce training and teen activities.

Some residents also suggested the city consider building a community fitness center with an indoor swimming pool and rooms for dance and exercise classes.

That, however, completely would change the scope of the project, DuBord said.

She noted that the Parks and Recreation Department has been discussing the possibility of a recreation center for several years.

A feasibility study indicated such a facility would need to be 70,000 to 90,000 square feet -- a major capital project requiring funds that likely would have to be approved by voters, DuBord said.

"A $1.5 million community center is a far cry from a $15 million to $16 million recreation center," she said.

"Does this have to be one huge mega-facility, or does it need to be two facilities? ... That's the question that needs to be answered."

The city will establish a steering committee to begin narrowing uses and help with the design and planning aspects.

The process of choosing the committee -- there has been a lot of interest so far -- will be discussed further Thursday.

The meeting will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall.

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