Ski Town center on ballot

Voters will decide on $34 million recreation facility with pools



Jessica Maniaci watches some members of the Steamboat Springs Swim Team finish up their practice laps at the Old Town Hot Springs on Tuesday morning. Maniaci coaches the 8-and-under swimmers on Tuesdays.

No consensus

Members of the Recreational Needs Exploratory Committee, which for the past two months has worked to further define local recreation needs, said Tuesday their group reached no consensus about how or where to expand local recreation facilities.

Monday's Steamboat Today said the committee recommended a $34 million center at Ski Town Fields, citing a report submitted to the City Council by Chris Wilson and Susan Petersen of the city's Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department. The report was submitted to the council "through" the committee, which Wilson said is a "conduit" to the council, not a recommending body.

Several committee members disagreed with contents of Wilson's report.

"We haven't made any recommendations," said Bette Van Dahl. "There was no consensus at all."

— A $34 million recreation center at Ski Town Fields, with pools, will be on the ballot for Steamboat Springs voters in November.

The Steamboat Springs City Council voted, 3-2, Tuesday night to select the Pine Grove Road site, near The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and the future Wildhorse Meadows development, as the potential location for a consolidated recreation facility. If approved by voters, the facility would include space for youth and teen programs, an indoor playground, a double-sized gymnasium, a fitness center and aquatic features including a six-lane lap pool, diving well and leisure pool.

City Council President Susan Dellinger, Councilman Steve Ivancie and Councilman Loui Antonucci voted in favor of the ballot issue. Councilman Towny Anderson and Councilwoman Karen Post voted against, both expressing support for recreation facilities at Howelsen Hill.

Councilman Paul Strong was absent, and Councilman Ken Brenner recused himself from the proceedings due to his affiliation with the Old Town Hot Springs recreation facility in downtown Steamboat.

The future of that facility spurred much of the debate Tuesday night.

Pat Carney, director of the Old Town Hot Springs, said a recreation center at Ski Town Fields with water and fitness facilities would be "very detrimental" to the Old Town Hot Springs.

"I feel like we're going to be fighting it out for members," she told the City Council.

"I really have concerns about what this is going to do to Old Town (Hot Springs)," Antonucci said. "But unfortunately, the numbers don't work."

Recreation consultants hired by the city in January told the City Council that building expanded aquatics at Old Town Hot Springs, plus other recreation features at Howelsen Hill, would cost more than $45 million. Such a plan also would require secondary road access from the adjacent U.S. Post Office parking lot and a bridge over Spring Creek.

Secondary access to a recreation facility at Howelsen Hill would require tunneling or excavation from Howelsen Parkway to 13th Street, a project that has long been considered by city officials as a potential bypass for U.S. Highway 40 traffic.

Anderson, an "unabashed supporter of downtown," said building at Ski Town Fields would be the easy way out - avoiding harder, but worthwhile, work to build recreation facilities downtown, he said.

"I don't question the need for facilities, I question the creativity with which we've approached it," he said.

Ivancie, the most unwavering supporter for a Ski Town Fields recreation center, said Howelsen Hill already is a busy location not suited for a new, large-scale facility.

"It's like trying to put 10 pounds of flour into a five-pound sack, when it comes to Howelsen," Ivancie said. "I think it would be doing too much out there."

In voting for a consolidated recreation center at the Ski Town site, Dellinger said she was going against her personal wishes but supporting the recommendation from consultants.

Dellinger also said she doubts voters will approve the recreation center.

"I think people will hear the dollar sign, and that will be the end of it," she said.

"I think it's going to be a lot of work to get $34 million passed," echoed Antonucci.

An energetic group of parents and community members, several with children on Steamboat Springs' summer club swim team, disagreed.

"The people want it," said JoEllen Heydon, the chairwoman of Citizens for a Community Recreation Center, or CCRC. "Let's let CCRC, with all their passion, campaign for it."

That campaigning will take place during the next several months, as designs for the recreation facility are finalized. Financial aspects, such as proposed user fees and the tax structure that will fund the center, also have yet to be decided.

A huge decision about the future of local recreation is now in the hands of Steamboat citizens.

"It's up to the voters," Ivancie said.


Socrates 9 years, 9 months ago

OTHS has never and apparently will never provide what a comphrensive recreation center can. Quality programming and facilities for the citizens of our community, babies through seniors. Yes the babies and the seniors are welcome at OTHS but the middle schoolers and teens are discouraged from using the facility both by attitudes and the many rules governing "age limits" in pools, locker rooms, etc...

OTHS has an incredible resource, their natural springs, that could be capitalized on rather than trying to ban a recreation center for fear of some healthy competition. Last time I checked, american government's jobs didn't include protecting long established businesses at the expense of the greater good.

Good job City Council, let people vote.


gravity 9 years, 9 months ago

If a new rec center is really for the people of this city why put it were it is most convenient for our visitors?


OnTheBusGus 9 years, 9 months ago

24 hour fitness anyone? I think we need a nice, big, real fitness center where you don't have to battle the summer pool crowd to get in for a workout.


ffv 9 years, 9 months ago

Gravity - I think most would prefer it in town; however, it boils down to cost..."building expanded aquatics at Old Town Hot Springs, plus other recreation features at Howelsen Hill, would cost more than $45 million. " vs. $34M at Ski Town.


housepoor 9 years, 9 months ago

why not put it next to the jailJustice Center........we could use the tunnel as a lap pool?


beentheredonethat 9 years, 9 months ago

steamboat does not need a tax payer funded recreation center. If some private entity wishes to take that risk they can knock themselves out. the private sector has long ago figured out that such a center, in this community, could never be profitable.


jlkar 9 years, 9 months ago

I guess Co-ed soccer will just not exist anymore. Between Triple Crown and now this, we'll be pushed out to the mosquito ridden, too-short, too fat fields at the Christian School. I guess 300 ALL LOCAL players will have to find something better to do? Thanks a lot.


retiredinss 9 years, 9 months ago

It appears that most if not all who have commented herein do not realize that there was a very comprehensive survey done of Steamboat Springs voters on their views of a rec center funded by the City, and the outcome of that survey. I strongly suggest that you get a copy of the survey and view the results.

With respect to beentheredonethat---not only are you correct about Steamboat Springs and a private sector recreational facility, your statement would be correct in most of the small towns around Colorado. Potential real users of a recreation center are not willing to pay the required fees to allow a private entity to build and operate one. Community recreation centers almost uniformly operate at a deficit and require annual public funding to offset operating costs. That raises a pertinent question of just who will benefit from the proposed rec center? In my experience at several hundred rec centers in many different towns and countries, it has been my observation that the actual users constitute a very small percentage of the total population--somewhere in the single digits. That will be true in Steamboat Springs also, which means that we have the potential to spend $34 million (plus overruns?), plus annual taxes for operation, in addition to users fees, to benefit at the most perhaps 500 local residents! I wonder if that is getting the biggest bang for the buck in terms of community benefits for public dollars spent?


bartender 9 years, 9 months ago

24hr Fitness, I hate corporate and big box facilities. Being an ISSA certified personal trainer, accompied further by 2 degrees and 2 minors (sorry knowitall probably more intouch here, but keep up your dilusion of wisdom, and I think have served you drinks before) I have run facilities before. Just look at Peak Fitness, they are here because people want alternatives, and they struggle because they are pasionate. Not to mention the 2 or 3 speciality facilites (Forever Fit and Fusion Fit amoungst others) that have popped up in the past year or so. They are here because people want more variety than OTHS wants to offer. Maybe this new facility can bring the little guys togther by offering and allowing them to contribute their skills and wisdom from one centralized facility.

Not to mention, Knowitall; Pat remains thankless on her own accord. If she were accessable AND approachable she may be appreciated. The two times I have tried to approach her on member related issues (i.e. the music); her staff warned me that "it won't do any good, that's how she wants it, but you can try". And Pat prooved them right when she said "thats how I want it, it hasn't changed and it's not going to". It took all I had to keep my third finger out of her face. She proved one thing, the place will never change because of her. She may build her slide, but she will ultimately allow the place to remain stagnate in a time far in the past.

In closing:

BoulderGrad- I agree it's not all Pat, she does have a board, they have allowed her to out stay her welcome.

So-crates - Amen. Love ya.

And lastly, Knowitall-- Yeah, your cut off.


Julie Green 9 years, 9 months ago

I've been living in our beautiful recreation abundant community for 30 years. There are so many year round opportunities to exercise and play here that I am amazed that there is such a perceived need for "indoor" recreation. I've always felt that the OTHS was wonderful for a town our size and that the annual fee was a real value. Also, I have always been impressed that they could provide the facility that we have WITHOUT tax payer assistance. Yes, it could stand to be updated and that is happening.

I really feel that these vicious attacks on Pat Carney are unwarranted and downright rude. She works hard, represents the board's wishes and does everything she can to provide the best facility possible within the budget available. Just because you disagree with her, doesn't mean she is evil or unprincipaled.

Lastly, I think it makes much more sense for a much smaller recreation center to be located at Howelson where so many of our young people already convene. Why not design something less expensive that compliments OTHS? The price tag for this facility is exorbitant for a town of 10,000 people. We all moved here or stay here for the outdoor recreation that is available. Why not live in a big city, if you want fancy workout gyms?


bartender 9 years, 9 months ago

APPOLOGIES, yes Appologies for the third finger comment. You must understand frustration that can be felt when you are trying to represent the feelings of a number of fellow members to a director who's only reasoning is pure stubborness and no basis for her stance.

And launnie, a good work out compliments any active lifestyle.


Socrates 9 years, 9 months ago

Launnie, I disagree that "we all moved here or stay here for the outdoor recreation that is available"? Perhaps that should have been stated as "I moved here and stay here for the outdoor recreation that is available."

This is a diverse community with needs that are outgrowing the current infrastructure.

Attachment is the root of all suffering. Change is here, always has been.


Hadleyburg_Press 9 years, 9 months ago

Cyborgdreams says:

"tourists will be the benefactors not this community."

Well, like it or not Steamboat became a tourist driven economy long ago and what benefits tourists benefits Steamboat. Economically speaking of course.

In an ironic use of language, I think Cyborgdreams ment to use Beneficiaries as opposed to Benefactors ;)


Hadleyburg_Press 9 years, 9 months ago

Time Stamp Jumble

Cyborgdreams says:

"tourists will be the benefactors not this community."

Well, like it or not Steamboat became a tourist driven economy long ago and what benefits tourists benefits Steamboat. Economically speaking of course.

In an ironic use of language, I think Cyborgdreams ment to use Beneficiaries as opposed to Benefactors ;)


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