Planning commissioners: Pool plan too big

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The Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association's plans to build an indoor pool are too massive and too much, Steamboat Springs planning commissioners said Thursday.

The plans went before the commission Thursday for a pre-application hearing. During that type of hearing, commissioners provide comment and feedback but make no formal decisions.

The Health and Recreation Association is a private, nonprofit group that runs the recreation center at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.

The association's plans in----clude replacing theutdoor lap pool and adjacent swim area with indoor lap and leisure pools. The existing hot pools and the water slide would be renovated. A parking lot would be placed where the tennis courts sit, north of the center. The project also proposes the construction of a pedestrian underpass under Fish Creek Falls Road.

Commissioner Steve Lewis said that the project was so massive that it would not be appropriate for its location, which he considers to be a gateway into the downtown area.

"This would change the entry into Steamboat Springs," Lewis said. "It is too much of a change."

Lewis said the size of the project would lead to other problems, including traffic and parking issues.

"I think that you're just trying to do too much," he said. "What you're proposing is just too abrupt and too big for me."

Commissioners Dick Curtis and Kathi Meyer agreed.

"You cannot fit all of this stuff that you're trying to fit in here," Curtis said.

Meyer said, "You're trying to be too much to too many people and trying to satisfy too many groups."

Meyer was concerned about how the size of the building would affect elements such as setback.

"It is a huge, massive building. It is too big for the site," she said.

Meyer and Commissioner Tracy Barnett agreed that parking on the site already is inadequate.

Barnett also said she was concerned about the loss of the outdoor swimming facilities.

"The loss of the outdoor pool, to me, is huge," Barnett said, adding that she understands the community's need for an indoor pool.

Two of the commissioners made additional suggestions to the association.

Barnett said that association officials should accentuate the hot springs.

"What makes you unique is those hot springs," she said.

Lewis suggested that association officials and board members stand on a hilltop vantage point near the recreation center and envision what kind of proposal would look best. That view of the Yampa River and the hillside, he said, is one of the best in town.

The Steamboat Springs City Council will conduct a similar review of the association's plans on May 16, the same day the council is set to hear a report about the feasibility of a new recreation center in Steamboat.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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