Shannon and Jeff Lukens: Think rec center

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This letter is regarding an indoor pool in Steamboat, something the community needs and deserves. Should it be at the Old Town Hot Springs or at a new recreation site at the Curci Turner land, off Hilltop Parkway? The issue is under heavy debate now and is on City Council's agenda May 16.

The Old Town Hot Springs (formerly Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association) has proposed a glorious indoor structure in place of the current outdoor lap and crab pools. It would have lap lanes, diving boards, a wade-in element and lazy river. The walls could be opened in the summer so guests could enjoy the indoor and outdoor elements and run between the two. But the outdoor current lap pool, which is more than 40 years old, would no longer be there. Instead, this new indoor facility would be used on a year-round basis.

Now, an entire recreation center has come to the forefront. The Parks and Recreation Commission is supposed to have been leading the charge on this. In the meetings I have attended, although there seems to be a consensus that a recreation center is needed, their actions to encourage this have been apathetic, with no sense of urgency. Now that the Old Town Hot Springs board has taken the initiative, it seems the Parks and Recreation Commission is realizing it had better jump to action. They need to strongly encourage the City Council to put a recreation center on November's ballot. This has to be decided in the next few months.

While I applaud the board of the Old Town Hot Springs for putting the issue of an indoor pool to the forefront, it's time to look at the big picture. Their improvements would be in the neighborhood of $16 million, which is risky for a private nonprofit that would have to also use city funds. To get an entire recreation center with the same aquatics elements, gymnasiums, a running track and desperately needed youth and teen facilities, the cost would be around $19 million. A final phase (and possibly later ballot issue) would build a fieldhouse at the Curci Turner site (think soccer, lacrosse, more basketball and track) for $7 million more.

The Old Town Hot Springs should reconsider plans, do its original improvements to the slides and hot springs and leave the outdoor pool alone for now.

Then, everyone should support the building of a new recreation center at Curci Turner. In a few years, the outdoor pool and diving well at Old Town Hot Springs could get a facelift, if necessary.

A decision needs to be made now on the direction that the community needs to take. And either way, we will support what is ultimately decided. But in our opinion, after in-depth exploration of the issues, Steamboat needs a real recreation center on the November ballot to give the residents of Routt County something they truly deserve.

Shannon and Jeff Lukens
Steamboat Springs

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