Council approves new center

Stock Bridge site gets green light; Anderson votes 'no'

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— The new Steamboat Springs Community Center will be built adjacent to the Stock Bridge Transit Center west of downtown, and could be completed in late fall 2007.

After hearing 19 comments from members of the public in an overflowing Centennial Hall on Tuesday night, the Steamboat Springs City Council gave final approval to plans for the new community center with two 6-1 votes. Council member Towny Anderson twice voted 'no,' voting against one plan detailing the center's site layout and another detailing its architecture. While nearly all of the public comments dealt with the 2.3-acre site bordering the Yampa River, praising or criticizing a site that has stirred debate throughout the center's planning process, the pair of council votes affirmed that the 8,400-square-foot, nearly $3 million center will be built at Stock Bridge.

"Congratulations, and good luck with the construction," City Council President Ken Brenner said to community center supporters after the votes.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said construction of the center will begin this winter. At a Sept. 19 meeting, the council approved $90,000 in "winterization" expenses, including a cold-weather concrete mix and weather protection for building materials.

"We're going to start advertising tomorrow, and we'll bid the project as soon as possible," DuBord said Tuesday night. "We're going to move as fast as we can."

The urgency is due to the new community center's relation to the expansion of Bud Werner Memorial Library.

According to an agreement city officials made with library officials in October 2005, the new community center must be built before the current Steamboat Springs Community Center, adjacent to the library, can be torn down to allow for the $11.4 mil-lion library expansion approved by voters in November 2005.

The agreement states that the new community center must be completed by August of 2007.

DuBord said Tuesday night that those plans will have to change.

"We can't meet the deadline - that's impossible," she said, adding that "at least a three-month extension, at best," will be needed for community center completion.

"The first thing we have to do is talk to people at the library," DuBord said.

DuBord said if library officials do not agree to postpone the expansion, an interim community center site will have to be found. DuBord declined to mention possible interim sites, but said any temporary community facility would need a kitchen and a large meeting area, the primary features of the new building.

Anderson said those features do not address the growing, diverse needs of active senior citizens, who will be significant users of the new center.

"This building has no investment in the future," Anderson said. "I think it simply replaces what was in the past."

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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