Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The City Council agreed during an informal discussion Tuesday that the city needs a new community center as soon as possible. A recreation center could wait, they said.
During Tuesday's council retreat, members conducted a 40-minute discussion about the future of community-based centers. All seven agreed that a community center is a separate and more immediate need than a recreation center.
The topic has been debated since November, when voters approved an expansion of Bud Werner Memorial Library. The Steamboat Springs Community Center will be razed to make room for the expansion. The previous City Council promised community-center users this summer that the city would build a new center before the old one is torn down; the council budgeted $1.5 million for the project. The library district must spend a portion of its bond proceeds within 36 months of issuing the debt.
Since November, there also have been a series of public meetings and forums related to a new recreation center.
Council member Paul Strong said Tuesday that the council must decide whether the centers should be combined into one building or be separate.
"Until we make that decision, we are nowhere," Strong said.
Strong said he supported a recreation center but that planning for one would disrupt the library expansion. He said the council should build a community center to meet needs now and that it should be on city property to save money.
Council member Steve Iv--ancie said a community center was integral to Steamboat.
"The need is real, the need is now," Ivancie said.
Council member Kevin Kaminski agreed.
"The community center is a need; the recreation center is a want," Kaminski said. He said he liked the idea of a "campus-style" setting in which the centers could be located next to each other.
The previous council's promise to the community center's users was a focus for council member Towny Anderson. He said the promise placed a burden on the current council.
"I hope that there's a lesson to be learned there for the future," Anderson said.
Anderson said he is interested in using the $1.5 million budgeted for the community center to make the old high school a usable meeting space. Then, he said, the council could take more time to decide what type of center or centers are needed in Steamboat.
"The beauty of the high school is that we don't miss an opportunity," he said.
Council President Ken Bren-ner said he agreed that the community center and the recreation center were two separate developments.
Brenner said he would like to work with the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association and its possible plans to expand and build an indoor pool in the Health and Rec Center.
"We would be flat-out crazy to build a competing pool," Brenner said. He also wanted to work with the Steamboat Springs School District to see what kind of needs it has and could meet.
The council agreed that one or two members would meet with members of the School Board, along with members of the community center steering committee, to discuss the centers.
-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail email@example.com