City pledges community center

Council: Facility won't be moved until new one is in place

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Steamboat Springs City Council members pledged Tuesday night that the existing community center will not be moved before a new one is put in place.

The discussion was spurred by seniors' concerns about the future of their programs at the city's community center in light of plans to move the center to expand Bud Werner Memorial Library.

Council President Paul Strong alluded to rumors he heard recently about the city's intentions with the community center, which the city owns.

"We have no intention of selling the land the community center is on until we have a new community center ready to go. There will not be a gap between an old community center and a new community center," Strong said. "We are going to make sure these users are taken care of."

Councilwoman Kathy Connell said that the new community center actually would be a better facility than the existing one, with better access for seniors and a building to fit their needs.

"I know that is the goal of council at this time," Connell said, and she suggested that city officials put down their intentions in writing.

Earlier this summer, the council heard preapplication plans for the expansion of Bud Werner Memorial Library at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue. The East Routt Library Board proposed removing the city's community center to make room for their two-story, 20,000-square-foot expansion.

The library board plans to ask voters in November to approve a $10 million to $15 million bond to fund the expansion. In its proposal, the library board has identified land near the Stock Bridge Transit Center as a possible site for a community center.

Shelley Orrell, program director for the Routt County Council on Aging, said the City Council's reassurance was nice to have.

"This has been a major concern," she said.

The Council on Aging supports the library expansion as long as it is in "conjunction with, but subsequent to, a new, more functional community center," Orrell said.

She said the increasing senior population and the growing demand for their programs has resulted in inadequate space in the community center. Parking and access issues also are problems, she said.

The Council on Aging's Board of Directors said the Stock Bridge site would be ideal.

Councilman Ken Brenner said that although the process to determine the needs of a community center and where it should be located would take longer than most people think, it would be a win-win situation.

"We see this as a great opportunity for the community. This is a very important community need. We have a progressively smaller facility for an ever-increasing population," Brenner said.

A new community center could cost as much as $1.5 million, according to estimates. In a memo to the council, city staff recommended that it budget money for design and construction drawings in 2005 and noted that the project could be put out to bid as early as December.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said she envisions putting together a task force of interested parties and reporting back to the council about its progress once a month.

An open house will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 1 at Centennial Hall to discuss the planning process for a new community center. The city is looking for input from users or potential users about their needs in a community center.

In other business:

The council approved the second and final reading of an ordinance designating land on Emerald Mountain as Gloria Gossard Park. Gossard donated the 120-acre parcel of land to the city in 1999.

The council reviewed recommendations for changing sewage rates. The rate study was done for the four entities that use the city's wastewater treatment plant. It recommends a fixed rate of $6.77 a month for the treatment of all sewage from residents. Other fees will be added on to the cost. The rates would not change or be less for the average residential home in Steamboat.

The council agreed to extend the moratorium on accepting preapplication plans for the base of the ski area. The moratorium was extended from Aug. 1 to Sept. 15. The city kept in place the Nov. 1 end date for the moratorium on accepting development and final development plans for the base of the ski area. The moratorium was enacted so the city could complete its update to the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan before major redevelopment occurred.

The council passed the second reading of an ordinance retiring the Architectural Review Commission and transferring its duties to the Planning Commission, which is composed of the same people. Staff thinks the change would provide a more concise, quality review and better customer service.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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