Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services' after-school program has called 11 different facilities home in just 18 years. That includes the newly renovated modular buildings adjacent to Howelsen Ice Arena.
The buildings, known collectively as "The Igloo," serve as the city's youth and teen recreation center. Renovations to the buildings began in May, expanding the amount of usable space to host the city's after-school program until space is available in the new Soda Creek Elementary School.
"That program is one that the city has been running for a number of years in a number of different facilities, and as the community has grown, so has the number of people that participate," said Parks and Recreation Director Chris Wilson, who noted the after-school program has been housed at The Igloo since 2002.
"As conversations circled around youth and teen needs, various surveys were conducted that said those were high priorities for the community," he said. "As the (Steamboat Springs City) Council set aside money for the next steps in the feasibility studies, the city manager also asked for funding to do improvements to The Igloo while the community was deciding what their next steps would be."
The Igloo previously served as staff offices for the ice arena as well as the arena's check-in area, locker rooms and skate-sharpening center. In January, the City Council approved funding for renovations to the buildings that comprise The Igloo, including new carpeting, flooring and painting. Four rooms of lockers were torn out, creating extra space for a preschool program and a homework room.
The City Council approved a resolution on July 17 for an intergovernmental agreement between the city and the Steamboat Springs School District for construction of a youth programs room in the new Soda Creek building that won't be completed until at least the 2008-09 school year.
"The ideal situation is that we are in a more permanent location, but we also want to use taxpayers' money wisely," said Jennifer Travis of the Parks and Recreation Department. "We didn't want to blow through a ton of money when we are only going to be here for a couple of years - hopefully. So how do we use this space the best we can?"
The after-school program will be transferred to the Soda Creek building upon completion. The program will have an 800-square-foot storage room and access to gym space and other portions of the school. The School Board will vote on the resolution in August.
"The city to date has paid $16,000 to the school district for help in design since it was something they hadn't planned to put into their budget," Wilson said. "So that design helps determine where and how that 800 square feet is done and how it is finished."
Wilson said the proposed $34 million recreation center, which will be on the November ballot, may also be a future location for the after-school program, but he noted the City Council approved $234,000 at the July 17 meeting for construction costs to be used at Soda Creek.
"The agreement will be for 20 years, with a minimum of five years before either part could move on to next steps," he said. "For example, if the school needs the space long-range or if the city moves down a different road for long-range solutions."
Superintendent Donna Howell said the importance of after-school programs cannot be overstated, and she added she hopes to work with the city for future partnerships.
"After-school programs are critical as they come at a time before parents are often able to come home," she said. "To provide a safe, educational environment for children is always an important resource and a priority in the school district."
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