Stock Bridge site settled

Council affirms decision to build community center at transit area

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— By vote, the Steamboat Springs City Council stands by the Stock Bridge Transit Center area for the new community center site.

But by discussion, the majority of members are reluctant to do so.

The council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to approve a resolution affirming Stock Bridge as the council's site selection for the community center. The council had voted in favor of the site in May; the resolution ratifies that decision.

The city is building a new community center because the old one will be torn down for expansion of Bud Werner Memorial Library. Council members have been pressured by a tight timeline because they promised to provide a new community center before construction on the library expansion can begin.

The council on Tuesday also chose the smallest center option proposed by staff.

Three options for the center were proposed: a $1.7 million, 5,250-square-foot facility that replicates the existing community center; a $2.4 million, 7,300-square-foot building that would accommodate the same function; or a $4.3 million, 13,500-square-foot facility that would include a teen center, activity room and toddler room.

During public comment, which came before the council voted, former council member Kevin Bennett said he was opposed to use of the Stock Bridge site for the center. Bennett said that all the parking at the transit center was needed for its original purpose: parking.

"If you keep the plan, there may never be paid parking in Old Town," Bennett said.

Council members had a vision for the site that a community center would destroy, Bennett said.

"Please don't do it tonight," he said.

Glen Cox didn't agree. He said he didn't understand how the need for parking downtown could increase so much.

"I'm just wondering how much bigger Steamboat can get," Cox said.

Council member Kevin Kaminski then moved to build the cheapest community center at the Stock Bridge site. No one supported his motion, so it was not voted on.

After that, council member Paul Strong moved to build the mid-priced community center at Stock Bridge.

Council member Steve Ivan--cie seconded the motion, saying he did not agree with public comment that the community center didn't belong at Stock Bridge.

"The transit center will be enhanced by this community center," Ivancie said.

Council member Loui An----tonucci said he would prefer the cheaper option but that he did not like the Stock Bridge location.

"It hate to throw $1.5 million away, because that feels exactly like what I'm doing," he said.

The situation was "obviously a mess," council member Towny Anderson said.

"This is a perfect example of how not to plan," he said, because the previous council made a promise that the current council thinks it must honor.

Council member Susan Dell--inger said she had concerns. The city may propose a ballot question about a recreation center in November, she said. Some elements of the proposed community center could belong there if it passes.

"We're double-dipping for the same uses here," Dellinger said.

Strong, Kaminski and Ivancie supported Strong's motion to build the mid-priced center at the Stock Bridge site.

Dellinger then moved to look for another site for the center. She and Anderson were the only two who voted in favor of the motion, so it failed.

Kaminski returned to his original motion: to build the cheapest center at the Stock Bridge site. It received reluctant support.

Antonucci seconded the motion, but he said that someday, the center would be torn down because the site was not the best option.

Strong said the option was "shortsighted and fiscally irresponsible" but that he would support it because of the library's deadline.

"It's the wrong thing to do," he said.

Brenner said he would support the use of Stock Bridge but that he wants to immediately start looking for another site. He also said he would be opposed to any expansion there.

The motion to build the least expensive building at Stock Bridge passed, 5-2. Anderson and Dellinger were the opposing votes.

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