Leslie Curley: Council needs to take its time

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In the course of the next two City Council meetings, there will be reports given and public comment taken on a new Steamboat Springs Community Center for seniors; the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association's expansion proposal; and a proposal for a community recreation center. The City Council made a commitment to replace the community center for seniors prior to breaking ground on the library expansion. They allocated funding to SSHRA and the community recreation center groups for feasibility studies on each of their future requirements.

Considering the three projects, is the City Council's commitment to replacing the community center for seniors so pressing that there is no time to consider the pros and cons of sites that would have a close proximity or adjacency to the proposed community recreation center sites? Wouldn't it be an unfortunate missed opportunity to have our seniors secluded at a remote location in lieu of integrated into a multi-generational facility where there is access to a greater diversity of activities, exercise, interactions and outdoor open space for them to use along with their kitchen and lunching facilities? Perhaps one feasible solution is to find an interim place to house the community center for seniors so that the library expansion can break ground and the community recreation center can go to a vote.

The hot springs amenity at SSHRA is a valuable resource for locals and a draw for tourists. Could the programming for an upgrade to SSHRA be made in cooperation with a new recreation center?

Do we want to end up with redundant facilities, both to include pools with lap areas, slides, and leisure pools, and both with exercise rooms, multi-purpose rooms with kitchens, etc.? Or could we accomplish enough pre-planning and cooperation to achieve beautiful, state of the art facilities that serve complementary purposes?

While an indoor swimming pool facility is greatly needed in Steamboat, if the SSHRA membership were polled, it would become clear that the preferred use at the SSHRA is for outdoor pool facilities. It also is becoming clear that SSHRA is going to be hard-pressed in accomplishing both at its current location. As Commissioner Kathi Meyer said at the SSHRA pre-application hearing, "You're trying to be too much to too many people and trying to satisfy too many groups."

Why not look at a total departure from a recreation center concept at SSHRA for a spa concept? I could picture the SSHRA as our own world-renowned local spa that accentuates the natural gifts of its setting even more so than now.

What is needed is a comprehensive look at all of the facilities to determine which sites can offer the best services, taking revenue generation and cost savings into account. What is not needed is any more taxpayer monies going into solitary efforts for the sake of protecting turf. This is a great deal of money to consider looking at all three projects, and it is just common sense and good business to look at all the possibilities.

City Council needs to take the time to consider a consolidation of resources that simply, from a planning perspective, takes advantage of the opportune timing of these three assignments. That way, an informed decision can be made that fully addresses the council's main question of "how the city's plan for a community recreation center and the community's need for more recreation (and senior) space could mesh with the expansion of the existing Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center." That question has not yet been answered.

Please get involved and be vocal at City Council meetings Tuesday and May 16.

Leslie Curley

Steamboat Springs

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