The 2006-07 class of Leadership Steamboat presents its community forum Dialogue Before Decision. This forum is designed to encourage engaged and informed decision makers by connecting our community to information and purposeful dialogue on issues vital to the future of the Valley.
In August 2006, a survey of 300 Steamboat Springs voters indicated that 65 percent support the general concept of a community recreation center. The most important factor in the decision making process for those surveyed was the kind of facilities offered, followed by cost and then need. The poll also asked residents to rank possible amenities in the order of overall importance. The amenities identified were:
1. Teen center with activities
2. Dedicated program space for out-of-school programs and summer camp
3. Indoor playground areas
4. Community meeting and multipurpose room
5. Gym with an elevated indoor track and two courts
6. Indoor pool with lap lanes and a deepwater diving well
7. Racquetball courts
8. Small water park-style play area
9. Workout facilities with
weight lifting and exercise machines
10. Climbing wall
11. Indoor field house with a synthetic turf field for soccer, football, baseball and lacrosse.
Although there are many views as to what would be nice to have in a recreation center, there are two criteria that could be used in making such a decision: what amenities are currently not available in Routt County and what populations are underserved.
Nicole DuBord, in her high school senior project presented to City Council, performed a survey of what students wanted in a recreation center. Of her peers, 117 envisioned a teen center, including a lounge, table games, availability of food and drink, a dance studio and late night events. The respondents saw the teen center as a component of a recreation center that provides teens a place to go while offering activities. The number one amenity requested by teens was a study area. Of those that responded, 79 percent indicated they would be willing to pay to attend events at a recreation center.
According to the August 2006 poll, the second most important amenity to local voters is a space for out-of-school programs. For the 872 elementary school children in the Steamboat Springs School District, there are 60 available spaces in the city-run After School Action program. There is no daily program for the 451 middle school kids. On scheduled school closings, there are 24 middle school spaces. The Afterschool Alliance, a national nonprofit, reports after-school programs contribute to safe communities, help working parents and their employers, and improve academics. They report the most likely times for alcohol use and sexual activity for youths is between the hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. A community recreation facility with adequate space, multiple amenities and appropriate staffing and programming has the potential to provide a safe, healthy environment for local youths.
Routt County lacks many public amenities such as hardwood courts that are used for racquetball, handball or squash, a public climbing wall, a diving well and an indoor swimming pool. These could be used for league sports, recreation, or competitive youth teams.
Some of the amenities could provide greater access to health and recreation for underserved populations. A facility incorporating adequate deck space, zero depth entry and shallow water could be advantageous for young swimmers, seniors, special needs populations and the medical community. An indoor walking area could increase opportunities for aging well.
While Steamboat Springs has worked for many years with what is currently available, there are societal, economic and population changes that our growing community is working to address. Many ideas have been expressed about what some want in a recreation center and what others feel are necessities. What is ultimately decided depends not only on what amenities are determined to be desired or needed, but on what the community is willing to pay.
Dialogue Before Decision welcomes your input. Please email suggestions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.