The George P. Sauer Human Services Center will be remodeled to accommodate the city's new community center, the Steamboat Springs City Council voted Tuesday night.
The vote came after public comment, during which a majority of speak--ers said they supported the Stock Bridge Transit Center site.
The council's vote was split, 4-3, with Paul Strong, Kevin Kaminski and Steve Ivancie voting against using the Human Services Center, which is on Seventh Street and belongs to the Steamboat Springs School District. The council's decision was made pending an agreement with the school district regarding the lease or purchase of the building.
The Steamboat Springs Community Center will be torn down to make room for the Bud Werner Memorial Library expansion. The council has made a commitment to build a new center before the old one is torn down. The council's promise is affected by the library's construction timeline, which is based on bond issuance.
On Tuesday, the council heard a presentation about three possible sites from Andrews & Anderson Architects. The architects proposed an 8,400-square-foot building for three locations: the Human Services Center, Stock Bridge and Memorial Park.
The architects did not do extensive work on the Memorial Park site because the community center steering committee did not recommend the site to the council.
The Stock Bridge site sits west of the transit parking lot. It would allow for a southern patio facing the Yampa River. Cost estimates for that site were about $3 million, twice as much as the city set aside in its budget. The Human Services Center renovations would involve removing sections of the current building; the cost is estimated at $2.3 million.
The majority of people who spoke in favor of the Stock Bridge site were seniors. Their main concern was that they would have to share the Human Service Center's kitchen with the school district.
Shelley Orrell of the Routt County Council on Aging, which organizes events for seniors, sat on the community center steering committee. She said she voted for the Stock Bridge site in part because of the kitchen issue.
Orrell said that 43 seniors voted Monday on their favorite site; 41 supported the Stock Bridge site.
Pat McClelland of the American Legion said the group took a vote, and everyone supported the Stock Bridge site.
A group of other speakers said they wanted the council to wait and select a larger community center site that also would accommodate a recreation center. In response, Council President Ken Brenner emphasized the council's commitment to community center users.
That commitment, Strong said, means that the council needs to act quickly on selecting a site. Because the city did not have any information about the lease or purchase of the Human Services Center, Strong said, the Stock Bridge site was the obvious choice.
Council member Towny Anderson disagreed. The Human Services Center was the best investment, he said.
"The Seventh Street site presents the most options for the future," he said.
Council member Loui Anton--ucci agreed.
"I think we can come up with something that would be a real asset to the community," he said.