Council picks Stock Bridge

Officials vote to build $3 million community center west of downtown


— Steamboat Springs will have a new community center at the Stock Bridge Transit Center.

The Steamboat Springs City Council voted 5-1 to proceed with planning at the site, which is one of three sites the city studied. Towny Anderson was the dissenting vote. Councilman Loui Antonucci was not at the meeting.

The cost of building the center is estimated at $3 million; the council budgeted $1.5 million for the project.

The current community center will be torn down for the expansion of Bud Werner Mem--orial Library. The previous council promised a new center would be in place before the old one is razed.

The council has been facing a tight timeline because the library must spend a certain portion of its bond proceeds within 36 months of issuance.

The council's first choice was the George P. Sauer Human Services Center, which is owned by the Steamboat Springs School District. The School Board voted down sale or lease of the building last week.

The council on Tuesday quickly dismissed the third site that was studied, Mem--orial Park.

Councilman Steve Ivancie said he was concerned about traffic and other elements of the site, but also that it was a park. "I thought we had settled that issue," Ivancie said.

Council President Ken Bren--ner said he didn't think he was getting support to continue discussing the site. He said he thought it was worth at least some consideration because it would create a "campus effect" with the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center and other facilities nearby. Brenner showed support of the site early in the search for a location.

During public comment, Ty Lockhart told the council that he was against use of the Stock Bridge site.

Lockhart said he originally thought the idea for the multi-modal center was silly, but in retrospect it was "somewhat a stroke of genius."

For that reason, he said, "It just makes sense to have this for parking."

The site should be reserved for parking because it's unlikely that council members will purchase more, Lockhart said. "It's very unsexy to buy a parking lot," he said.

He didn't want the council to hurry through the decision-making process.

"Don't let the urgency of the moment distract you from the long-term goals of the city," Lockhart said.

The majority of the people who spoke, however, favored the Stock Bridge location.

Barbara Bronner of the Routt County Council on Aging said that seniors, who are the primary users of the community center, supported the Stock Bridge option. They also hoped they wouldn't be the only users of the new center, she said.

"We're hoping that this will be a building for the whole community," she said.

Paul Hughes, the former city manager, said a community center would be a fitting addition to the area. "This is exactly the right site for a community center," Hughes said.

Hughes also said the center should be expanded to make it more attractive to residents. Every resident should use it at least once a year, he said. He said an area for teenagers should be built in the first phase.

After public comment, council member Paul Strong moved to proceed with the Stock Bridge site. Strong said he supported the site in part because of the timeline.

However, Strong said, he was disappointed that it took the council so long to get to the point of selecting the site. A committee recommended the site six months ago, he said.

Ivancie said he liked the Stock Bridge location. "I think this is an ideal site because I see it as it's probably going to be the center of town in the near future," he said.

Council member Kevin Kam--inski said he supported the site, but he was concerned about the cost. He said that a smaller building might save money and allow for more parking.

Council member Susan Dell--inger said the teen center should be part of the building. Dellinger also said she was concerned about whether the center would be completed in time and how the council would pay for it.

"I don't know where we're coming up with this other million and a half. I'd like to know that," she said. She suggested that the council ask the library district board for assistance.

Anderson, the dissenting vote, said that he saw that the council was part of a series of actions that led to a situation that was "not a good place."

"We're rushing into this," Anderson said.

Anderson said he was concerned about the cost of the center.

"Where are we going to get the rest of this money?" he asked. "I can't support the direction that we're going."

Brenner said he was faced with a tough choice.

"This would appear to be the most logical alternative that we have left," he said.

The community center should have facilities for children and teens, he said. But if they expand the site, he said, it could cost $4.5 million. The council will have to explore new methods of financing, he said.

Ivancie suggested that the council ask the community for donations. For example, he said, a landscaping company could donate its services.

During discussion on the motion, the council decided to discuss the size, contents and cost of the building at a later date, which was not set.

"I don't want to design the building tonight," Strong said.


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