Delays ahead

Community center project stalled at least a month

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A view from the northeast of the initial proposal for the new Steamboat Springs Community Center. The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted unanimously against the architecture Thursday, calling the design "bland"and "institutional." Architects are redesigning the building, a process that could include changing its site layout, adjusting rooflines, adding gables and changing exterior materials. Architects plan to bring a redesigned community center to the planning commission in mid-December.

— Plans for the new Steamboat Springs Community Center likely will not be reviewed again until mid-December, a city official said Friday.

Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord, project manager for the new community center, said the Steamboat Springs City Council will not review plans for the center during Tuesday's council meeting. Instead, staff with Andrews and Anderson Architects of Golden will redesign the center during the next several weeks, then bring a new proposal to the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission in mid-December.

"It's a little bit of a setback from a schedule standpoint, but we'll get through it," DuBord said Friday after several meetings with city officials and architect Nan Anderson.

During the meetings, DuBord said, it became apparent that rushing plans for the community center - a building financed and managed by city staff - to the City Council would not show the due process given to other development projects in Steamboat.

"We want to play by all the same rules as everybody else," City Council President Ken Brenner said.

On Thursday, Planning Commission members called the community center's proposed design "blatantly institutional" and "extremely bland," before voting against development plans for the 8,400-square-foot, $2.9 million center. The facility will be built on a 2.3-acre site bordering the Yampa River and adjacent to the Stock Bridge Transit Center west of downtown Steamboat Springs.

In addition to the building's architecture, commission members opposed the placement of a parking lot close to U.S. Highway 40. The city's community development code requires a buffer of at least 30 feet between a roadway and parking area, and it encourages placing buildings, not parking spaces, along roadways.

"We're going to take another look at the landscape buffer requirement and the look of the building," Anderson said, listing adjustments to rooflines, window patterns and exterior materials as possible architectural changes. "There are a lot of different options on the table."

DuBord said moving the community center closer to the road would reduce the building's frontage on the Yampa River, specifically by moving a large patio that, in the plan presented Thursday, would have provided seating steps away from the Yampa River Core Trail and the water.

"Are you building the building for the view from the highway, or are you building it for the public benefit of the river?" DuBord asked Friday. "We weren't arbitrarily going against the (development) code - that patio by the river is really a beautiful thing."

DuBord also said that renovating the building's design could result in less environmentally friendly building features.

The new community center must be built before the existing Steamboat Springs Community Center, adjacent to Bud Werner Memorial Library, can be torn down to allow for the $11.4 million library expansion approved by voters in November 2005.

DuBord said that according to the agreement city officials reached with library officials, the new community center must be completed by August 2007.

Andrews and Anderson designed Centennial Hall on 10th Street, and the firm is working on designs to renovate the Routt County Courthouse on Lincoln Avenue.

Nan Anderson said she respects the Planning Commission's decision Thursday.

"I think everyone is entitled to an opinion," Anderson said. "Architecture is a complex art."

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