In its reporting about the May 9 City Council meeting, the Steamboat Today neglected to mention that the plan for a new community center is to remodel the old junior high's gymnasium and add a kitchen. The architect's recommendation did not seem to take into account the existing use of the area to be renovated. This process of finding the senior group a new space would in turn displace the current gymnastics programs, which would need to find a new location. This "solution" simply solves one problem by creating the next one.
I am wondering whether "displacement of children" is becoming City Council's new motto? Do council members realize or care how many children are involved in the Steamboat Gymnastics Center? If I were to guess, I think the number would be in the hundreds. The gymnastics center has been one of few spaces parents can take their children year-round. My kids have been involved in these programs off and on for the past 10 years. If the City Council can guarantee a new community center for the seniors, how can they in turn throw out more kids, and only consider "phasing" in a toddler and teen center. How much later, and at what cost?
In the beginning of this, I agreed with the urgency of rebuilding the community center to relocate the seniors and American Legion. But shouldn't we build on city-owned land and in a location that might also support a new recreation center at a later date?
Of the two locations, I think the downtown location would suit the community better than a site farther west of town. Although City Council voted to put the community center in the old junior high, it made this decision without owning the building or having a plan to lease from the school district. The renovations required for this site were estimated at $2.2 million --nother project extremely over the original budget. When will it stop, and who is going to pay for this?
Our kids that are involved in the city's Parks and Rec after-school and summer programs have been uprooted and moved into temporary locations long enough. Some City Council members have promised numerous times during elections to put more effort into supporting our kids and have promised to provide them with a better situation than the current one. When do they think they will have time to consider this problem? After seeing so many kids sent to the deteriorating "Dock" at the old junior high, I was extremely excited to get personally involved in the conception of what became Emerald City. I put significant volunteer hours into helping create Emerald City. Not that it was the perfect situation for the kids and teens, but at least it was theirs. I sat back a few years later and watched it be torn down for condo space because city officials said they couldn't afford to purchase the land and save Emerald City. So off the kids go again, now to the "Igloo."
If the City wants to build a new 13,000-square-foot community center, I feel there should be sufficient space for the seniors and American Legion's needs and the Parks and Rec's programs. If we are only looking at building a community center to get the seniors their meeting spot back, then maybe we should be looking at a senior center, which would come in at the budget of $1.5 million. Save the 13,000-square-foot community center for the whole community.