We believe the majority of the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association's members and the majority of community residents wholeheartedly endorse the Steamboat Springs City Council's support for the Old Town Hot Springs. This facility has been the community's primary recreation and relaxation spot since Native Americans discovered what is now known as the Heart Spring. The Old Town Hot Springs are as much a part of Steamboat tradition as Howelsen Hill. Old Town Hot Springs is a historical landmark in this community. Do we really want to endanger its existence and the community's substantial investment in this facility?
Even if you are not a traditionalist, there are practical reasons for supporting fitness and water recreation at the Old Town Hot Springs. The downtown location is central to business and community life, particularly if the current post office property is added to the site. It is walking distance from the schools and a prime attraction for the current downtown redevelopment. Any new big box recreation center is not likely to be nearly as convenient or as efficiently located for public transportation, bicycle and pedestrian access, or for access to local businesses and restaurants.
Also, the cost of expanding the Old Town Hot Springs facilities is millions of dollars less than that of the big box because many of the core amenities - lockers, parking, significant exercise rooms and fitness equipment - are already in place. In time - 20 years or more - new recreation will be needed, assuming Steamboat continues to grow, for residents and visitors. But for the near term, the duplication of facilities seems an unnecessary cost.
Furthermore, the annual subsidy for recreation centers in Colorado is staggering - nearly $1 million a year in some cases. SSHRA is a volunteer, nonprofit corporation that is self-supported through membership fees and tourist revenues and receives no public subsidy and no public funding. Although some support would be necessary if an indoor pool is included in recreational improvements on the site, this subsidy is estimated to be less than half of that anticipated for the a new recreation center. If tourist support builds for the planned recreational and water amenities, this subsidy will be even less. We are ready to establish a public-private partnership with the city to help supply the recreation needs of the community at a fraction of the cost of the big box concept.
Tradition, location and economics: City Council and the community are wise to think outside the big box and look to expanding the recreational resources we already have.
Board of Directors
Old Town Hot Springs/Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association