Board promises to replace center

Meeting will update seniors on community center's future

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For 25 years, Routt County seniors have enjoyed meals, bingo games, health classes and other programs at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Some seniors worry these programs may be in jeopardy if voters in November approve a proposed bond issue to expand the nearby Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Although the community center likely would be torn down to make room for the expansion, the East Routt Lib--rary Board has suggested a new community center could be built on land near the Stock Bridge Transit Center. The library would not be expanded until the community center is replaced, Board President Tom Hopp said at a recent Steamboat Springs City Council meeting.

Representatives of the Routt County Council on Aging -- which organizes senior programs at the center -- are holding an informational meeting today to update seniors and other residents about those discussions.

The meeting will be at 12:45 p.m. today at the community center after the senior lunch.

"We really want to keep the seniors informed so they don't worry about what's going to happen to us and those programs," said Barbara Bronner, board member with the Council on Aging. "Utmost in people's minds is that those stay intact."

Concerned seniors have been calling the Council on Aging about the future of programs since last month, when the City Council spoke favorably about conceptual plans for the library.

Bronner and Shelley Orrell, director of the Council on Aging, have met with the library board and site plan committee for about two years, since the board began exploring expansion options.

"We do feel that seniors have been well-represented," Orrell said.

The city tentatively has plan--ned a community meeting Aug. 1 at Centennial Hall to discuss what should happen to the community center, including possible sites for a new building, Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said.

The meeting will include residents and representatives of all users, including the Council on Aging, American Legion and the city parks and recreation department, which rents out the facility.

"We want to see a lot of public input," DuBord said.

With Routt County's senior population growing, the Council on Aging sees an opportunity to build a community center that will better accommodate more programs, she said.

Orrell and Bronner also will be seeking seniors' input on possible new programs.

Currently, the Council on Aging hosts afternoon meals for seniors four days a week at the community center and also uses the kitchen to prepare food for the Meals on Wheels program and for seniors in Hayden.

Average attendance at the Steamboat afternoon meals last month was 40 seniors -- double the average attendance five years ago, Orrell said.

The organization also is seeing more demand for art, health and defensive driving programs, and is having problems coordinating those classes with regular meals.

"We've just outgrown the space," she said.


-- To reach Tamera Manzanares call 871-4204 or e-mail tmanzanares@steamboatpilot.com

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