Steamboat Springs is in the midst of an exciting, collaborative and grassroots process of improving the unmet recreational needs of the community. This is an exciting time, and our group, Citizens for a Community Recreation Center, wants the community to get even more involved.
First, a huge thanks to the Leadership Steamboat Class of 2007 for their efforts in bringing the rec center issue to the forefront of Steamboat through their Dialogue Before Discussion Forum. A few things came out of the public forum that should be brought to your attention.
Our community is changing with new families and new businesses moving to Steamboat and Routt County every day. Thanks to the seniors of our area for making Steamboat such a wonderful place to live and raise a family. Because of our long-time locals, Steamboat is getting even better. Several at the public forum who have been in Steamboat for a long time say we are fine with our current recreational facilities and the pool at the Old Town Hot Springs. Many residents, and especially those who have more recently called Steamboat home, know that the Old Town Hot Springs cannot meet all of those needs. Rec centers across Colorado and the United States are all-encompassing and multi-generational and beautiful additions to towns and communities. For example, we need an indoor lap pool, diving well, walking/jogging track and more gymnasiums. A Field House would serve lacrosse, soccer, an indoor playground and more. It could even be used for conventions, parties and concerts. We especially need a place for our youth and teens. Having a spot for the kids at a rec center is the perfect solution, and the expert opinion of the consultants hired by the City. Not only is it a great place for families, it is also the perfect place for our community to spend time together.
Another topic was a possible gymnasium at Strawberry Park Elementary School. This does not fulfill the unmet needs of Steamboat's general public. This is a school board issue to decide whether to build another gym on its property. The most recent needs assessment study done by the school district showed that another gym at the school is not a priority.
As far as an indoor pool at the Old Town Hot Springs, this option cannot be pursued until a new Post Office is built and the current property is purchased. The consultants have estimated this to be more than $40 million and more than two years out before anything on that site can even be contemplated.
Recommended sites for a consolidated rec center are: Howelsen Hill area, Ski Town Fields and Rita Valentine Park. We would encourage neighbors and neighborhoods to work with the City and the consultants in coming up with a plan we can be proud of. Jogging trails, sidewalks and Nordic trails can be built in the areas around such a facility, enhancing the open space even more and making it available for everyone to use. Fields can be added. It can be a center for our community and beautifully done to complement the area.
May 8, the City Council will hear what the consultants have to say. Their presentation is informative, thorough and exciting for our community. We encourage the community to come to the meeting and learn more about what the consultants, paid for with your tax dollars, are proposing. Let your voice be heard by encouraging City Council to let the voters decide in November by putting the issue on the ballot. If you really feel that a rec center is something our community needs, we encourage Steamboat's residents to show up to Tuesday night's City Council meeting, listen to the presentation, and voice your opinion to Council. While this is most important for our parents with school-age children, it is also the most difficult for these parents to get there. Bring the kids and show them our community's governmental process in action.
Citizens for a Community Recreation Center
JoEllen Heydon and Marc Fraioli, Chairs