Steamboat Springs city officials are planning to build a new community center that likely will include meeting rooms and a commercial kitchen.
But a push by some residents for recreational amenities such as climbing walls and an indoor pool has convinced some City Council members to rethink what may be involved in the construction of a new community center.
A committee already has recommended that a community center and a recreation center be in two separate facilities. The practicality of that separation is an issue some City Council members raised last week. They also want to make sure that whatever they do, they do it right.
"I'm just concerned that we're going to run out of room for one or the other," Councilwoman Susan Dellinger said during the council's latest meeting.
Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord told the council the community center likely will start at 6,000 or 7,000 square feet, but it could expand in the future.
"We certainly will not build anything that doesn't have room to grow," DuBord said.
Six years ago, the city hired Ballard King & Associates to conduct a feasibility study for a recreation center.
Based on 1999 costs, constructing a 37,000-square-foot building would cost $6 million. Construction costs have increased since then.
Size and cost are different when it comes to a new community center, which city officials promised would be built if voters approved a Bud Werner Memorial Library expansion. The city has set aside $1.5 million to build a 7,000-square-foot center.
Community centers are projects that can be eligible for grant monies. Many recreation centers in Colorado are built using a combination of bond issues and tax increases.
The community center project is well on its way, and the recreation center is at the resurgence stage. The existing community center will have to be razed to make room for the library expansion, a project expected to begin in the next couple of years.
Regular users of the center include seniors who participate in activities sponsored by the Routt County Council on Aging, which has a 25-year agreement with the city for use of the community facility. The American Legion also has a 25-year-old lease agreement with the city. The agreement states that if the building is sold, destroyed or disposed of during the first 40 years of the lease, the city is required to return the $50,000 rent or obtain another building.
City Council members have expressed a commitment to those users, saying the city will provide a new center before the old one is torn down.
This fall, the City Council appointed an 11-person committee to investigate possible uses of the new community center. Committee members had a wide range of interests, including programs for teens, seniors and swimmers. Several city officials also attended the meetings, including council members Ken Brenner and Paul Strong.
Most committee members started the process thinking there should be one large center to meet community and recreational needs, Strong said. However, several changed their minds during the process.
The committee's final report to the council stated that in addition to building a new community center, the city should immediately being a public process to plan for a new, multi-use recreation center.
Some council members want to stick with the committee's recommendation for two separate centers; others say they need more information.
During Tuesday's council meeting, councilman Kevin Kaminski said, "There is a need for both. We should take the steering committee's recommendation."
But Brenner, who became the council's presidential earlier this month, stressed the importance of planning any new center with care.
"This is a significant thing that we're talking about here," Brenner said. He said he continues to hear a lot of overlap of suggested amenities for the two centers, and that the players involved in both processes are the same.
Brenner, along with councilman Loui Antonucci, agreed the council should meet with community center steering committee members to learn more about their reasoning.
Brenner also suggested that Steamboat Springs School District officials join the process. Brenner said he was interested in learning whether the district's Seventh Street property is a possible site for a center. The site already was part of a library district study focusing on the site for a new library. District officials determined the site could not support the library's plans for growth.
The community center steering committee is set to reconvene this month, DuBord said. The council plans to meet with the committee during a joint meeting with school officials as soon as mid-December.
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