Parent pleads for play space

Fund Board requests begin annual process for school gifts



Strawberry Park first-grader Riley Smith eats her lunch in the elementary school's multi-use gym. When it isn't being used for physical education, the area is transformed into the school's lunchroom. A few parents have proposed a field house that would give the growing kids more room dedicated to physical activity.

— The gymnasium at Strawberry Park Elementary School serves as an assembly hall, recreation center and cafeteria, but Steamboat Springs parent Bette Van Dahl believes the multi-purpose facility doesn't serve any of those functions well.

"Basically for 12 years I have picked up, dropped off and sat and waited at three (Steamboat Springs) schools," Van Dahl said. "I did a lot of thinking and looked around. The elementary gymnasium-cafeteria-auditorium is less and less functional. Lunch takes up more time and there is less time for P.E."

Van Dahl petitioned the Steamboat Springs Capital Commission on Wednesday for a new stand-alone, multi-purpose field house on the Strawberry Park campus to give elementary students more physical education space and to give students at all district schools an indoor facility during the long winter months.

The Capital Commission is one of three groups that provide funding recommendations to the Education Fund Board, which administers the city's half-cent sales tax for education and allocated $3.3 million last year.

Van Dahl lobbied for expanded facilities at Strawberry Park during public meetings about a possible new recreation center in Steamboat Springs. With that $34 million facility proposed for Ski Town Fields and on this year's ballot for Steamboat voters, Van Dahl has set her sights on the Fund Board.

The Capital Commission recommends funding for capital projects, which would include expanded recreation facilities at Strawberry Park.

Van Dahl received a preliminary cost estimate from Todd Ficken, project manager for construction projects at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools.

"He said it could be done for about $1.5 million," she said. "That would be for a simple 10,000-square-foot building with two basketball courts, a brick façade and bathrooms."

Van Dahl was limited to a five-minute presentation Wednesday. But at a Capital Commission meeting Nov. 14, she plans to use 30 minutes to make a more in-depth proposal.

Fund Board President Robin Crossan said such presentations and comments allow members of the public to have input in the annual Fund Board allocation process.

"This is a way for them to give us a heads up and bounce ideas off of us," Crossan said. "What they need to do next is work with the principals at the schools, then the principals take ideas to the leadership committee, which includes the superintendent."

Crossan said the leadership committee updates commissions in December on prioritized funding requests. Commissions then update the Fund Board in January on funding proposals before the board awards funds in March.

"We look at the Capital Commission, the Education Excellence Commission and the Technology Commission and see how we can make giving out funds equitable," Crossan said.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail


nxoby36 9 years, 6 months ago

This is something that would benefit all the school age children I agree Yes why not ? as for the fancy Rec. center how about all of you folks that would use this form a co-op and build it your self ? Are you afraid that it would not be a good enough investment for your money ? So you want To force me to pay for your boondoggle ? No mater what you may think this is a democratic republic and not a communistic or socialistic country . The bible states love thy neighbor not pay for his way . If free enterprise doesn't see this as a profitable enough business to do why should we put our money into a losing proposition ? Why should the rest of us who would never use it pay for your toys? I raised kids here and we always found lots of safe and fun things to do in the area. They are in their 30's and still seem to enjoy life in the valley and county with out having a roof over their heads . If you think that it is to cold and inhospitable here why not go back to the left coast where you belong . VOTE NO ON 2B &2C !
I sure don't want to see a 25 to 35 % increase in my taxes for something I would never use !


Jean 9 years, 6 months ago

Yes I believe P.E. in school is important, I also think parents should limit kids t.v, and computer time at home. I remember when I was young, my parents always said"go out and play until I call you in for dinner".


autumnwitch 9 years, 6 months ago

A building for the cafeteria is a much better idea and would probably more cost effective.


dave reynolds 9 years, 6 months ago

we had P.E. when I was in elementry school..gets rid of energy and is just good excerise


Vince arroyo 9 years, 6 months ago

now this is recreation area we can have. thank you Bette and all whom are working on this P. E. should be a hourly once a day class. and it should be mandatory. whether or not the state curriculum requires it .


birddog 9 years, 6 months ago

!.5 million for a 10,000-square-foot building with two basketball courts, a brick façade and bathrooms? In Steamboat? Pipedream! I see massive cost overruns. I am not sure Strawberry Park has room for a 10,000 sqft building. Something else would have to go.

Strawberry Park already has a gym. All they really need a is cafeteria. It could be much smaller and built for way less money.


mom 9 years, 6 months ago

This is a very reasonable request and a much needed addition! PE class often cannot begin on time after lunch. The school is splitting at the seams due to 500+ students at SPE, which results in after lunch clean up taking longer and cutting into PE time. When weather is bad students have indoor recess (before school and lunch recess) in the arcade wich is often chaotic due to the acoustics and the number of students crammed together. The noise level effects other classrooms as well as sensory over load for most students....and many adults.


krisjeffb 9 years, 6 months ago

Phyical excercise should not be considered something to be done if one has some extra time or on occassion. The importance of daily excercise is well touted in mass media and is part of the healthy American lifestyle. Why are we teaching our children otherwise by making it less than a daily requirement in our school curriculum?

P.E. should be removed from the specials rotation, giving art and music more prominence in the curriculm. P.E. and foreign language should be daily requirements for all students grades K-12, even if that means extending the school day slightly.

Increasing the number of art, music, P.E. and foreign language classes would improve physical and mental health and well-being; foster creativity and self-esteem; and help more kids succeed, both in school and in life.


Sunspot 9 years, 6 months ago

I agree with birddog. If the high school needs more gyms they should be built at the high school. Strawberry Park already has an adequate gym. What would happen to the playground and the soccer field? A cafeteria for less money would be a better idea.


Hammurabi 9 years, 6 months ago

If I recall correctly, didn't the school board, led by John D. throw out consideration of changing and enlarging the Strawberry Park Elementary school cafeteria. I recall that this was to be part of the bond issue. If memory serves me right John didn't want the kids to eat lunch in the arcade (during the construction period) and said that this was unnecessary. Feel free to correct me if I'm mistaken.


beagle 9 years, 6 months ago

Hi Hamm, yes I'm afraid you have it totally wrong again. Included in the bond issue was a plan to move the kitchen down to the other end of the arcade (at a cost of approx. $300,000) and have the kids eat lunch in the arcade. This idea got was tossed around and tables were set up in the arcade so everyone could see what it would be like. (Every board member except Gleason came to take a look.) It was a crowded mess and ruined the arcade in my opinion. The board voted in June not to move the kitchen and plans for a new cafeteria were discussed. John D. and Mark MacHale both helped with figuring out ways that might be financed. The project has been on the back burner until now but there is still a big need for either a cafeteria or a gym at SPE.


mom 9 years, 6 months ago

lunch in the arcade would have been a disaster....even worse than recess in the arcade.


mom 9 years, 6 months ago

someone needs to: (a) get more sleep (b) stop posting after too many drinks (c) grow up (d) all of the above


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