Our View: Let the voters decide

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— We applaud the Steamboat Springs City Council's decision last week to forward a recreation center initiative to the ballot in November.

The proposal is for a $34 million, full-scale facility to be built at Ski Town Fields near the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. This is the most logical and economical site. It's also appropriate to put a large-scale, all-encompassing facility on the ballot.

A full-scale facility consolidated at a single site has always stood a better chance of approval than a scaled-down one that costs less or multiple facilities spread around town. Recreation center advocates have a tough battle ahead convincing voters to sign off on such an expensive center, but at least they won't have to fight perceptions the facility does not offer enough amenities.

Details still have to be worked out, but the preliminary plans for the facility 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.

Some City Council members are skeptical. Council President Susan Dellinger doesn't think the issue will pass, though she voted to put it on the ballot. Council members Towny Anderson and Karen Post advocated for keeping recreation facilities downtown, utilizing the Old Town Hot Springs and Howelsen Hill.

But all of the city's research showed a large facility at a single site was the most practical and economical. It's the option the city's consultants recommended and it's the option that got the strongest support in a citizen survey.

As Council Member Steve Ivancie noted, Howelsen Hill simply can't support a large-scale facility. "It would be like stuffing 10 pounds of flour in a five-pound sack," Ivancie said.

Ski Town Fields has the room. It is the most cost efficient. And it is in a high traffic corridor just off U.S. Highway 40. That's a critical factor in getting tourists to use the facility and thus help offset annual operation costs.

The city certainly has a far better option coming to the ballot now than it did at this time last year. The $18 million facility proposed in 2006 offered a gym, an indoor pool and a walking track, but it had no workout facilities and no leisure pool component. We argued that proposal would fail miserably had it gone to the ballot.

The current proposal certainly is not a slam dunk. A lot more needs to be known about the facility, particularly the tax implications and proposed user fees. The Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association, which has the city's largest fitness membership and is undergoing a major renovation of its aquatics facilities, has indicated its opposition to the facility and likely will oppose the ballot measure. And there is the segment of the voting population that's going to say "no" based simply on the fact that the facility will require a tax increase.

But Citizens for a Community Recreation Center has embraced the proposal and is optimistic the community will get behind it. "The people want it," said JoEllen Heydon, who chairs the group. "Let's let CCRC (members), with all their passion, campaign for it."

Such grassroots passion surely will be needed in the coming months. But after years of debate and analysis, at least recreation center advocates finally have a proposal worthy of getting behind.

Comments

another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

First we will all pay a hundred or two per year for 20 years to build it... and THEN we have to join and pay dues. No thanks.

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sickofitall 6 years, 9 months ago

The "Injustice" Center was up to the voters too. But hey, what the heck do we know!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 9 months ago

I'm wondering where in Tennis Meadows this will go? I think it would be the perfect place for it, but with the new developement going up, I don't think there's room.

It's also hilarious that an anonymous person is denigrating Scott when that person hasn't shown their physique to compare.

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Hammurabi 6 years, 9 months ago

Cyb, your comments on different subjects on this forum show that you have no class, taste or judgement.....are you off your meds? You might try anger management...

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Matthew7_1_5 6 years, 9 months ago

cyborgdreams, Matthew 5:43-47 says love your enemies for even the heathen can love his friends. I would say that too to all of you who write hate-filled comments about Dr. D. Also in Matthew 5:10 it says, Happy are those who are persecuted because they are good, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with those who write in the Steamboat Pilot blogs.

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

How did we get from rec center to Dr D? Enough already.

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powderdude1 6 years, 9 months ago

This is Ski Town USA not Swim Town USA! Steamboat is all about the great outdoor recreational opportunities that we have. This issue is all about a covered competetive lap pool that will be a constant drain on the taxpayers, we do not need it. Those that want it should move somewhere else.

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Mark_Louden 6 years, 9 months ago

Why build an indoor pool to compete with H and R, when what we need in the winter/early spring is an indoor field ... something with a track around the outside to protect track users from field users and, possibly, nets to divide the field to allow multiple, simultaneous uses. More use, less cost. Opens up partnership possiblity with the school district as well.

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JQPUBLIC 6 years, 9 months ago

I agree with another_local... This tax us to build it and charge us to use it is getting old, works out well for the tourists though.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 9 months ago

Powderdude- we have an excellent swim team in Steamboat, if you hadn't noticed. Why rely on just skiing when we have the opportunity to send more summer Olympians? Try going to the pool in the morning and try to swim laps when the swim team is practicing.

Plus, if it goes to the voters and they vote it in, will you move because YOU don't want it? I also don't see too many people skiing on the mountain right now, but the pool is packed. Wonder why that is? Can someone explain that?

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momofthree 6 years, 9 months ago

Kielbasa: The pool is only ever crowded for about two months in the summer, when the swim team is out in full force, and the pool offers swim lessons, too. As a swimmer, I find that as annoying as anyone, but I don't see how it justifies spending the amount of money required not just to build, but to maintain, a competitive indoor pool in this town. The swimmers can certainly commute to Craig if they need more pool time and/or truly competition-worthy facilities. This is not a radical idea, nor should it be seen as an undue burden; in most places in the country, people commute that far (or, for that long) to access sports facilities. I'm sure if money were no object, everyone would love to have all kinds of recreation facilities, but money IS an object, and so as a community, we must prioritize. Given the relatively small number of users compared to the extremely high cost of operations, I don't see how it's possible to justify a pool. And I don't think tourists come to Steamboat to use an indoor pool!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 9 months ago

No, but tourists could use the Old Town and the Swim Team and locals could move to an indoor facility for swimming, giving more opportunity for a year-round competitive team. I used to be on the Swim Team 25 years ago. I would have loved to have been able to compete and train year-round without needing to use icy blocks. Rent it out for teaching scuba or something.

Steamboat has grown and it's growing in more ways that just snow sports. If this helps a kid who might want to train for the Olympics having a 50m pool locally would be better than a 25yd pool. Let's make Steamboat Olympian Town, USA instead of Ski Town, USA. Let's help produce the most number of Summer Olympic atheletes on top of Winter!

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SteamboatJoe 6 years, 9 months ago

Matthew, put down your "high' of choice and realize we are in the rocky mountains. Do kids in Orlando get a ski mountain? Steamboat will crumble when it tries to be all things to all people.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 9 months ago

SteamboatJoe- Nobody is skiing on the mountain during the summer. In Orlando, they get Disneyworld and a thousand other activities year-round. Are you saying Steamboat should just become stagnate? That's sounds "high" to me.

One could argue that swimming is a better all around workout just in itself than pretty much any other sport. An indoor pool can be used year round without having to go outside of town. Where do skiers go in the summer? Australia? South America? How much does that cost someone skiing competitively?

Maybe we should also get rid of all our football, basketball, X-C, Track & Field, and wrestling teams in school. Those are funded by taxpayers, so if we eliminate those programs, we could just force everyone to ski. Imagine how Steamboat won't crumble by being nothing to everyone.

And if you really want Steamboat competitive, Ranching was the sport before skiing. They had to do that year-round, also. I hear it's a great workout and they didn't have to go to Australia in the summer just to keep in shape for the Steamboat winters. Times change.

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Socrates 6 years, 9 months ago

There are a heck of a lot more things going into this recreation center than a swimming pool.

The #1 need identified by locals and the consultants is space and programming for out of school activities for children K-12.

The lack of affordable, accessible, and high-quality child care, school-age care, and teen programs has a negative effect on current and future educational attainment and employment for parents and children, the economy and family income, and physical and emotional environments in which people live.

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

So this is a big daycare center? Well, that makes it a lot more attractive: NOT.

I sure hope this ballot issue fails.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 9 months ago

Already said I voted multiple times. And if my side loses all the time, why do taxes keep going up? Plus- you can't prove you only voted once, can you?

Oh yeah- when are you going to verify my proof about how the military works, to dispute all your links? Still waiting! Of course, you're still to scared to actually check proof that goes against your thinking. Prove me wrong!

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

If there is extra money in the budget due to the things you mention (BTW increased property value does NOT create more revenue under TABOR) the increase should be used to retire existing debt and buy land for future use. The increase in sales tax revenue is disapearing quickly into increase costs.

I have zero confidence in the current city govt's ability to spend wisely.

In the midst of all this plenty we are running a deficit as it is. The modest surplus we had accumulated over the years is being spent... so be careful about those assumptions of plenty.

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Hammurabi 6 years, 9 months ago

For the record, the city does NOT collect or have a property tax. This community is sales tax driven which makes it highly vulnerable to weather, the economy and tourism.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 9 months ago

For the record: the "we the people" that SBvor brings up is an unscientific poll. You can vote as many times as you have access to separate computers and browsers. SBvor does it all the time, as do I.

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another_local 6 years, 9 months ago

Hammurabi,

The variability and vulnerability of sales tax is a myth. This reasoning is put forward by the propononents of creating property taxes and is not supported by the facts.

The city forcasts of revenues fall within small single digit percentages of actual receipts which is in line with solid financial planning methods. "Off" years have not produced unamangable swings in revenue. The statutory 3.8 million reserve is more than sufficient to protect against the small swings that might take place.

Next, a number of local entities do have and collect property taxes. We have several special property tax funded projects in place right now in addition to the regular property tax funded local services:

Library construction (combined city and county, the library board is partially appointed by city council making them an extension of the city).

Library operating fund (another shell game moving expenses from a city contribution to separate funding source to free up funds for other non-balloted purposes)

School construction (not city but local).

Teacher salary cost of living offset.

Open space aquisition (another local effort).

The city attempted to put in place the fire district funding that failed on the ballot a couple of years back. (It was a funding shell game to free up city funds for other purposes not on the ballot)

None of this is to say that these projects are unworthy or wasteful. I voted for most of them myself.

No city property taxes? Semantics at best.

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quietone 6 years, 9 months ago

Better idea use this money too redo the rodeo grounds so we can use it all year, kinda annoying having too go all the way too Hayden too use theirs and this will benefit the locals more than the new rec center thing.

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