Center's scope undetermined

Residents gather at Centennial Hall to discuss future of community center

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A plan for what a new community center will offer should be in place before residents vote on the expansion of Bud Werner Memorial Library in November.

However, as of Thursday night, city officials were unsure about what the scope of the community center would be -- something comparable to what the current community center offers or a larger recreational facility.

"It is possible we will have two facilities instead of one," City Council President Paul Strong said. "There are a number of options."

On Thursday, a crowd of about 50 gathered at Centennial Hall to discuss the future of the community center.

The relocation of activities at the community center near Little Toots Park is part of the East Routt Library Board's proposal to expand Bud Werner Memorial Library.

The city hopes to have a plan in place for replacing the community center before voters are asked to support a property tax to fund the library expansion.

The next step in the community center process is to form a steering committee of seven to 10 people who represent user groups and to come up with recommendations.

Strong said it could be possible for the group to develop alternatives, ranging from maintaining the status quo of a 7,000- to 8,000-square-foot community center to building a recreation facility 10 times the size with a swimming pool and gymnasium.

How the building would be paid for also would depend on its size and use. A community center similar to and even slightly larger than the current one could cost about $1.5 million and would be paid for by grants, money raised from the library's purchase of city land and funds from the city. A large recreation center would require a bond, Strong said.

City officials have identified land near the Stock Bridge Transit Center as a potential site. They also have said that physically relocating the existing community center would not make much economical sense.

Chad James, who is facilitating public meetings about the community center, discussed common themes that came out of the first meeting held a month ago.

Among them was a need for a building in which the community could meet, greet and eat. A key component of the facility would be to provide a large kitchen and different size rooms for various groups to meet.

"The facility needs to be flexible and accessible so many types of groups can support the spaces," James said.

The American Legion and the Routt County Council on Aging are among the primary users of the community center, but it also is used sporadically for fundraisers, holiday dinners, health fairs and other community activities that require large rooms.

James said the groups that use the community center tend to be mostly local and have limited budgets.

Part of the decision process, James said, would be deciding whether certain spaces in the community center should be dedicated to specific groups.

Residents asked city officials and James on Thursday how long the process would take and urged them not to lose sight of seniors' and teens' needs. Resident Nancy Howell said some of the items on the list, such as a boat ramp connecting to the Yampa River, are excessive. She worried that so many options would slow down the process of building the community center.

"It's going to take us five to 10 years to get it," she said. "We want to move into something without it being a long process."

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