Rec center committee begins campaign

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— There's no rest for the weary when it comes to the supporters of a proposed $34 million recreation center at Ski Town Fields, the fate of which will rely on voters' appetite for increased property taxes come this November's election.

For more than a year, the recreation center's proponents have fought just to get a facility on the ballot. That was finally accomplished at a Sept. 4 meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council. The Citizens for a Community Recreation Center since have registered a campaign committee with City Clerk Julie Jordan, moving their fight from council chambers to city streets.

Jordan said Brad Piske, a Steamboat Springs Swim Team board member, came to her to form the committee. She said no opposing interests have come forward yet to form a campaign committee, which is required for organized electioneering by the Colorado's Fair Campaign Practices Act.

"Before anybody does any sort of public campaigning, they need to call my office," Jordan said.

Jordan said although the city has no local sanctions for campaign violations, it requests everyone abide by state laws. Reported violations are forwarded to the Colorado Secretary of State's office to be reviewed by an administrative law judge. However, Jordan said the cases are rarely resolved prior to the election, and that they require large commitments of time and money.

"Unfortunately, we have had instances in the past when rules have been violated," Jordan said. " But I don't think I've ever seen outcome from the Secretary of State's office."

While no recreation center opposition has formally organized for the campaign, the proposal has plenty of detractors, most of whom are against the property tax increases and don't believe the facility justifies its price tag.

The construction, operation and maintenance of the center would cost Steamboat taxpayers up to $3.4 million in additional property taxes next year - not including user fees - according to the ballot language passed by City Council. That increase would mean an additional $33 a year per $100,000 of estimated market value for residential taxpayers and an additional $121 a year per $100,000 of estimated market value for commercial taxpayers, according to calculations by Bob Litzau, the city's interim finance director.

Some have claimed that the proposal is just a hyped-up push for improved facilities for the swim team, and others say the facility is unnecessary because of Steamboat's abundant outdoor amenities. Shannon Lukens, also a Steamboat Springs Swim Team board member and Citizens for a Community Recreation Center member, said the facility is about much more than the indoor swimming pool.

"It's everything Steamboat doesn't already have," Lukens said. "It's great to be outdoors, but we can't be outside all the time."

Steamboat mother Michelle Diehl said there is a need in Steamboat for a safe place for kids to have fun.

"Just knowing local kids, there's a huge need for a place for kids to hang out," Diehl said.

As proposed, the recreation center would include youth and teen facilities, a double gymnasium, an elevated walking and running track, locker rooms, a six-lane indoor lap pool with a diving well, a warm leisure pool, artificial turf fields, an indoor playground and a fitness center.

Pat Carney, director of the Old Town Hot Springs health and recreation center, said she agrees the city has unmet recreation needs, but she doesn't believe the Ski Town Fields facility is the wisest use of $34 million.

"I just think it's too much money for what we're getting, and there are too many unknowns," Carney said. "But you never know what taxpayers are going to do."

Carney said she is in favor of expanding recreation facilities at Old Town Hot Springs and Howelsen Hill.

"I feel like having recreation facilities downtown is important because that's where the kids are," Carney said. "That's the solution that makes the most sense."

Carney said that option would allow students to walk or bike to recreational facilities from school, whereas the Ski Town Fields option will increase traffic on the east side of town. She noted that many kids already are traveling to Howelsen for Winter Sports Club activities and iceskating.

George Krawzoff, the city's transportation director, said there has been no study into the Ski Town Fields recreation center's effect on traffic, if it is constructed.

"To my knowledge, transit has not been part of the discussion," Krawzoff said. "That area is not typically where we have problems. Our problems are from Third to 13th. I don't see the traffic being a critical issue."

Comments

steamvent 6 years, 11 months ago

Funny that Jordan feels the need on this specific issue to warn the public that any opposition campaign must be registered. Apparently she knows that there is so much opposition that people will come from all directions to see that this initiative is soundly defeated. The proponents will tout the youth hang out angle, but why not use the schools located downtown for afterhours youth activities, since they are seriously underutilized outside of class time? How many publicly funded social monuments are we going to build in this town. Has anyone charted just how much all these current and new stand alone facilities will cost to operate and maintain? Will the voting public realize that there may be more need to upgrade our road infrastructure than provide a new place for little Debbie to swim? If we are going to increase our taxes, then maybe we should do it for something that benefits everyone.

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rodcarew 6 years, 11 months ago

I agree with Pat-this is the wrong site. If its going to happen, it should be in the heart and soul of the recreational community-Howelsen Hill, where kids can walk to it. It should also include frequent and accessible bus service to the front door.

I also agree with steamvent about the more pressing need in the community-the traffic situation. We need to re-study the bypass to reclaim downtown and vastly increase our funding of mass transit. The bypass would reduce pass through traffic in downtown and paid parking would provide the reason to use transit to get downtown, thus further reducing vehicular congestion in the area.

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elk2 6 years, 11 months ago

I am not opposed to a new rec center. I just think that many of the people involved in the campain for the center want the rest of us to pay for the new facility.. Recognizing the names of these people and knowing of them I have come to the conclusion that they have the means to kick in alot of the money themselves, why not make it a for profit business venture. If it is as popular as they say, they will make a bundle. I'm just trying to feed and clothe my kids.

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dimwitiguess 6 years, 11 months ago

No rec center for me. I like the idea of it being at Howelsen versus the mountain area. That could be a beginning. The schools are underused for events other than sports and I would like to see more student-oriented events at our school. They control drinking and drugs for our prom. They could do that at other student events at the schools. Why don't we have more dances and events that we could attend when sports are out of town. Why not a ninja warrior night or some other fun events?

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RinkRat10 6 years, 11 months ago

Why not FINISH the ice arena? It's the Todd Lodwick of the Rec. Department. i.e. "I had the race won, looked over my shoulder to see if I had time to celebrate, tripped over my ski pole and came in second." Perhaps the Rec. Dept is looking to plush offices in their new 40million$ life-dream instead of the ones provided in the rink plan. Finish one 7million$ project before you begin a 40million$ one. The money they have spent on studies, surveys, plans and daydreaming would have finished the ice arena.

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hazel 6 years, 11 months ago

I just had to respond to the comment made by steamvent regarding using the schools for after hours youth activities. The gyms at the schools are already used every day after school. And forget any drop in time for any of the gyms because they are scheduled so tight. There are actually kids in this town that are not winter sports club kids although it is hard for some to imagine. I am supporting the rec center in the hopes that the kids that are not competitive skiers can have a place to access sports and recreation. I am also supporting the rec center as a place to have indoor swimming. I know one can go to the Old Town Hot Springs to swim laps - but I just can't seem to bring myself to it in the middle of winter, although in the summer you can't beat it! The rec center is being spearheaded by some swim team parents, but I see it meeting the needs of so much more than that population. I see it supporting the families of Steamboat through all their phases - young and old. I also think that the Old Town Hot Springs will continue to flourish and will be a better place because of the Rec Center. Our town is big enough to support both.

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beentheredonethat 6 years, 11 months ago

VOTE NO to this massive taxation. instead, address the TRAFFIC CONGESTION.

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ffv 6 years, 11 months ago

The OTHS/Howelsen option ($37M with fewer features) was considered by the consultants and City Council. To me a combined facility (which Ski Town Rec is) and moving it away from Main Street helps with traffic.

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steamvent 6 years, 11 months ago

Hazel ... you assume all youth want to play basketball. Much of the school space other than gyms could be used for many diverse youth activities. The point is that we have a lot of bricks and mortar now, which we are already heating and maintaining. Do we really need to add more?

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colobob 6 years, 11 months ago

Move to Steamboat to stay indoors, go figure. One of the most diverse places on earth as far as rec. opportunities go and it still isn't enough for some people. What comes after the rec. center isn't enough? Maybe they can build a casino on sleeping elephant.

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another_local 6 years, 11 months ago

Since I pay rent on commercial space I pay the tax on that space in addition to the tax on my home. This new center will cost me about the same amount every year as a family membership to health and rec.

For that tax money what do I get? The satisfaction that I helped pay for a place that other people want? If I wanted a place to swim I would join Health and Rec. At least give me a membership!!

NO ON THE REC CENTER!!

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addlip2U 6 years, 11 months ago

The swim team parents can contribute $100,000 needed for the repair/maintenance needed for the Craig's pool to remain open. That is a much more plausible alternative than spending $34 PLUS of our money.
Has anyone asked why is the pool in Craig closing?

Indoor pools are a loosing money, require expenisve maintenance and never generate revenue.

The Rec center is a loosing proposition for all of us.

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elkeye 6 years, 11 months ago

Why is it that the supporters of the proposed rec center seem to ignore the $10 million white elephant in the price tag?

Including a "zero-depth entry pool" in association with an indoor competition pool/diving well is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Until the indoor competition pool/diving well is removed from the project scope or funded through grants, donations and private funding, vote NO.

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WZ007 6 years, 11 months ago

Steamvent, good note on Julie's comment. I thought the same.

Pity she did not state clearly that it is illegal for City employees to spend City money or their City time to support the Rec center proponents committee. That is the one to watch since one senior member of the Parks Recs management team is a member of the original Recs Proponent Committee.

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elkeye 6 years, 11 months ago

"Carney (director of the Old Town Hot Springs health and recreation center) said she is in favor of expanding recreation facilities at Old Town Hot Springs and Howelsen Hill."

The Old Town Hot Springs is free to expand recreation facilities at Old Town Hot Springs BUT the Old Town Hot Springs should not expect the taxpayers to pay for them!

In regards to current ballot proposal, vote NO!

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skidattle 6 years, 11 months ago

This has got to be the biggest white elephant I've heard of yet in this town. Granted I've only lived here 25 years, how 'bout we forget about affordable housing and think affordable living! Maybe we should think about a mil levy for some community health care. What about non taxble food?More public transportation the help with traffic. etc. etc. I own a commercial "work/live" unit, my taxes would increase significantly to pay for this. These units where supposed to help with the afforable housing issue and promote small business. Now they want to tax me to fund a place for the elitists can hang out together and complain about the service the got at diner last night. The same people who are working the "kids need a place to hang out" angle are really looking for a place to dump their kids so they don't have to deal with them.

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colobob 6 years, 11 months ago

All these NO votes are warming my heart! Don't let the "Big City Newbies" slice and dice Steamboat any more than they have already. Boat People need to stick together on this one. Steamboat is considered by many to be the Outdoor Capital of the world, myself included. Makes you wonder why some of these people came here in the first place. I swear if I hear one more person whine about having a place for the kids to hang out I'll throw up. Just the phrase "hang out" alone has negative conotations. Instead of hanging out let them discover the vast array of rec. opportunities that Steamboat has to offer and get busy. Hand them a fly rod, shove a mtn. bike under their butt, enroll them in a sports program, get them interested in photography, climbing, hiking, camping, golf, ect., ect. The list of rec. options in this community are virtually endless and boggle the imagination. What are these poor deprived kids going to learn hanging around a rec. center? How to wear their pants halfway down their butt, or wear their hats at a 90 degree angle, maybe become the worlds next pinball wizard. And while I'm on my soapbox the next time some moron belittles Howelson Hill remind them that it is the oldest continuous use ski area in the country as well as being the only ski area listed in the Colorado State Register of Historic Places. It put Steamboat on the map for Gods sake. Get these kids outside and let them do something constructive. Let the parents hire their own babysitters or join thier own fitness or country clubs. If these people want to live in a metropolis let them move to one. Don't let this magnificent place become a playground for the elite, it belongs to all of us!

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elphaba 6 years, 11 months ago

......The hockey parents built their own facility at their own expense - SSWSC has been funded by parents for years - let these swim mom's put their own money where their mouths are.

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animalfarm 6 years, 11 months ago

I grew up in a city in the 1960's. We didn't have a public place to "hang out", we "hung out" in our neighborhood, we rode bicycles until dark, we played baseball, softball, tag, hide and seek, flag football, we climbed trees, and we all grew up to be responsible adults! We didn't get in trouble with the law! And none of us were overweight sugar junkies, and NONE of us were ever diagnosed with ADD! Make your "hang out" the mountain, your neighborhood, the National Forest that is right out your back door! Or ride up and down the bike path!

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WZ4EVER 6 years, 11 months ago

I live in what used to be an entry level home in town but now has an assessed value of $600,000. That means that I will involuntarily pay a couple hundred dollars per year for this. My junky little office that I rent requires that I pay the taxes. That is valued by the county at $800,000, so I'll pay another involuntary $1080 or so. Then, if my family wants to actually use it, that's $900 per year more? That's more than $2000 per year. That would pay for season passes for my whole family (thanks Ski Corp for the kids programs).

Which would I prefer? We live here because of the outdoors and skiing, not swimming or running off my love handles on an indoor track. Would I ever use the facility? I doubt I would be able to afford it! This is an elitist scheme to subsidize the personal desires of a few people at the expense of the rest of us.

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soccercstate 6 years, 11 months ago

34 million for what!!! Someone is getting ripped off and it sounds like the tax payers!!! The recommended rec center has nothing I would be interested in using. I don't need to pay for recreation in this town and I don't make the money to pay for a "babysitting" facility either! Steamboat is one of the safest places around "the kids don't need a safe place to play indoors"! I vote NO!

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Hammurabi 6 years, 11 months ago

Thanks Pilot/Today for the per $100k assessment numbers. Now it would be nice if you would give the voters an overview of the previously approved mill levies (dollars per $100k assessed value) that will come on tax bills starting this year, but we will not see until after the first of next year when the county tax assessments come in the mail. I think that the voters have forgotten how much we have approved paying for last year. Only then can we be fully informed and make good choices for ourselves and for our community.

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Vince arroyo 6 years, 11 months ago

I Vote no! on the rec center. parents be responsible for your children. Thanks animalfarm. your right.

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jack legrice 6 years, 11 months ago

How about a breakdown as to how much each area will cost. Someone must have an idea of this. Like someone mentioned before. The vote for a new school was turned down and those in charge came back with a much better plan and the voters aproved it. Right now you are quickly loosing votes. You never had mine due to the outragous cost. The supporters are not giving alot of info.Are they afraid?????

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jack legrice 6 years, 11 months ago

About the time of post. I am working out of country right now and we are 11hrs ahead of you. Do not want to be compared to PRINCIPALLYSENT!!!!! Besides liquor is banned here. Will be interested to see town when I get back.

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soccercstate 6 years, 11 months ago

Nicely said WZ4Ever!!! City folk trying to duplicate the city here in SB! This is a mountain town....they can move back to the city for their pool!

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colobob 6 years, 11 months ago

"Boat People" love Steamboat for what it is, not for what some "Big City Newbies" think it should be.

Save Steamboat!

Vote NO!!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

ColoBob- How long you lived in Steamboat? I've been here since I was 12yrs old in 1978. Does that make me a "big city newbie" because I support the Rec Center?

"Boat people" can accept ideas when they increase the options of what to do in Steamboat if outdoors is not all you crave.

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fish 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes matt you are a newbie. Haven't you figured out what that means yet? Newbie is a term we use for anyone who disagrees with our way of thinking, then we can call you a name like this to infer that your opinion shouldn't count because you haven't been here long enough.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

Fish- That only works on those who can PROVE how long they've lived here. How many on this thread are willing to do that, I wonder, eh? I've raised my hand.

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colobob 6 years, 11 months ago

sounds to me that you've raised your finger not your hand and prove what to who? You? "git along little doggie, git along."

Thanks fish!

                                      Vote No!
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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

Colobob- Prove to me that outside interests are the only ones tauting this. Evidently, I can prove I live here and am not a "big city newbie" and you can't/won't. Then, prove to me you are a local interest. Until then, you aren't even a local with local interests in mind.

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soccercstate 6 years, 11 months ago

Kielbasa.......who cares! We all moved here, to a small town......we don't need "big city" facilities....it's something you give up when you move here......why are people trying to bring the "big city" to SB? You give things up when you move to little towns:..just like big pay checks!!!!

VOTE NO!!!!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

Why are people trying to stop something that means more to do in Steamboat???!!??? Why are "little minded" locals afraid of something that benefits Steamboat with more amenities???!!!??? Why do soccer fields get tax money thru Parks & Rec for upkeep? Who the hell plays soccer in this town???

Vote Yes for More Fun In Steamboat!!!! Help send a Swimmer or a Diver to the Olympics by allowing them to train at home in a World Class facility, just like our skiers!!!

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soccercstate 6 years, 11 months ago

Stop something........it's called NOT paying for something we don't need! Mountain town= winter sports!!!

Talk about "little minded"....."who the hell plays soccer in this town".....those fields are used for baseball, soccer, football, ultimate frisbee......just to name a few people who use them!!!

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

As a City we are paying for people to throw a Frisbee? It's worse than I thought!!!! Ultimate Frisbee isn't an Olympic sport, last I saw!!!!! Plus, your own post just nailed it, right? "...just to name a few..." FEW, not MANY. Your words, not mine.

Plus, who made up the "rule" that a mountain town equals winter sports ONLY? Kayaking isn't a winter sport, yet we have a river they can only truly use in the summer. Blows that argument, eh?

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

Hey soccerstate- I only twist what people can't put in print in a form that can't be twisted because they haven't thought things out that far ahead! Kind of like people naysaying this Rec Center; they only see today and don't look to what comes next.

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mfishon1 6 years, 11 months ago

Matthew, The big difference is when we call stuff "public" like soccer fields, baseball fields, core trail, biking/hiking trails, city parks, etc...there is NO admission/usage fee to use them...it is FREE and EQUAL access to all locals. That is not the case with the rec center...only those who can afford the usage fees (in addition to all the new taxes) will be the privleged few who will get to use the facility. I think that is one of the reasons why so many people are getting on the na-sayer band wagon is because they are starting to realize what a huge cost burden this thing really is.

I will admit that a few years ago I was all for this rec center idea, but now I realize that this is not a wise and prudent use of tax payer money for just the privleged few who can afford it.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

Mfishon1- Best reasoning yet. Unfortunately, pay per use is the way things turn out now. Public Parks have admission fees. Used to be able to watch free TV. At least in Craig, you can't do that any longer, unless someone replaced the signal tower for broadcast network channels.

We all pay for things we all don't use. Eventually, we MAY use them, though. I pay for the Library. I haven't been in it for almost a decade. My house hasn't burned down, yet my taxes pay for the Fire Department. Sure, it could be argued that the FD is "just in case." Well, I pay for insurance in that aspect, also. As a whole, we all pay for stuff we almost never use.

The problem is that Steamboat is growing, and isn't due to stop for a while. That means adding amenities to Steamboat that might not have been there before. If you want time to stand still where you live, move to Wyoming or Montana. You have a better chance of finding that slice of Americana you are looking for. Steamboat isn't that place and hasn't been for a while.

As I was waiting for soccerstate to say it, I'll go ahead and beat'em to it: the fields are MULTI-use. That means, Yes: more than one group uses it so it get used...by more than one group. The Rec Center will do the same thing: cater to different people of different tastes. That's what the make-up of Steamboat's locals and guests are, also: different people with different tastes.

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soccercstate 6 years, 11 months ago

Hey Kiebasa....I'll call you twister...(he who takes others thoughts and twists them)! For 34 million the rec center is not giving us much for multi-use....this rec center is all about the pools and for the swim teams in town! Has anyone thought about building a pool at the high school and getting grants for it?

NO is still the vote.

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id04sp 6 years, 11 months ago

People seem to complain endlessly about underpaid cops and firefighters. Why are we spending this kind of money on another fru-fru project when the county has a real need to retain qualified emergency personnel?

How about hiring a social worker to run the elder watch program if it's really needed?

How about just saving back the $18,000,000 they spent on the injustice center.

It makes no sense.

A while back I theorized that increasing property values would eventually drive out current residents as tax assessments go up. There comes a point where taxes can cost as much as that old mortgage did when you took it out 20 years ago.

The rec center is another marketing ploy to make the county attractive to second home owners who can pay more than locals. The real estate sector will always profit from turnover, and anything that forces somebody to sell out pours money into the realtors' pockets.

Speculation increases costs without increasing value. It adds nothing to the economy and takes up dollars that could be going somewhere else.

These county projects all seem to be designed to benefit developers, builders and realtors by increasing the "value" of property in the community with no regard for the costs passed along to existing residents. If a rec center of this magnitude cannot be built and supported as a for-profit business, then it doesn't belong in the county. Let the people who want the benefits pay for them, and leave the rest of us alone.

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Matthew Stoddard 6 years, 11 months ago

Id- The Rec Center is a City project; not County. Mixing apples and oranges to make fruit salad. Not on today's menu.

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dogd 6 years, 11 months ago

No to the Rec Center. Not needed. Flat out NO.

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mfishon1 6 years, 11 months ago

Matthew...the point I was trying to make was that the rec center is a double whammy in terms of paying. We all pay (via taxes) for public services...maintaing roads, fire dept, library, schools, police, parks, trails, etc....when you go to use those services you don't have to pay a usage fee...it is covered by the taxes you have already paid. This is not the case for the rec center....you have to pay a boat load of taxes to build and maintain it and then you will have to pay an additional usage/membership fee to actually use the facitiliy. This is why these rec centers become a privleged club type setting because only the people who can afford the membership fee will get to use it. I realize that this is how every town operates these rec centers so this is nothing new...and of course it seems the goal of steamboat is to be like every other town so we end up with a massive rec center that will cost everyone (directly or indirectly) in taxes and only provide benefit to those few who can afford the additional membership fees.

Is a rec center a good idea....sure it is; however, it is my opinion that this service should be done by the private sector since the public sector cannot really make this work as a true public service that is available(i.e. affordable) to everyone.

I am very glad that this rec center is finally going to the voters. Actually, I won't be surprised at all if the rec center does pass because based on the recent elections the voters here have a very high tolerance for tax increases.

It just seems that one minute the community is trying to find ways to make living in steamboat more affordable for the locals working 2 or 3 jobs...and then the next minute we keep finding ways to increase taxes, increase local government, increasing cost for local businesss that gets passed along to the locals, etc.

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colobob 6 years, 11 months ago

soccerstate, a pool at the high school seems to be the most logical suggestion made to date. Not only would the swim team get what they want but others would be able to benefit from it as well. More kids would have an opportunity to try something (competitive swimming & diving) that they probably never gave much thought to. The swim team would most likely broaden its base by discovering new talent and there is probably funding available through the state and the county along with the taxpayers dollars. Definitely worth exploring. Certainly would get more support than the current rec ctr. proposal. No opposition from me on this idea. It makes sense.

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techno_babble 6 years, 11 months ago

Anyone know how big this facility is supposed to be?

In 2006 Berthoud erected a 56000 sq ft center for $12.6 million.

Almost all the recent facilities in Colorado are operating at a deficit.

Some interesting reading about the costs, fees to use, and how the facilities were financed can be found here.

http://www.divideparkboard.org/RecStudy.pdf

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