Steamboat Springs Old Town Hot Springs officials have decided to delay an effort to raise $5 million for renovations and expansion and instead focus their efforts on an education campaign.
“We need to build better awareness about what the Old Town Hot Springs is,” board member Rich Lowe said. “Many people think we are owned and subsidized by the city, and that’s not true. I look at the financials monthly, and I can tell you we are a nonprofit.”
Lowe told a small group of Hot Springs members Wednesday night that a consultant hired by the nonprofit health and recreation center in downtown Steamboat Springs had “little confidence” that the Hot Springs could raise $5 million given the current public perceptions about it.
Before embarking on a potential fundraising campaign, Hot Springs officials conducted 13 focus groups and surveyed more than 200 users of the facility.
“You need to figure out whether the community and the members support this kind of initiative,” Lowe said.
Hot Springs officials said they were surprised to discover that only half of the survey participants knew there were expansion plans for the facility near Third Street and Lincoln Avenue. They also learned that some users were turned off by the current condition of the facility.
“There is some things that we need to do in order to get rid of this old, tattered, tired impression,” Lowe said.
By adding 10,000 square feet onto its existing 20,000-square-foot facility, the Hot Springs hopes to enhance its educational, recreational and therapeutic programs. Officials want to add more cardio space, a meeting room, a family locker room and create another exercise room to accommodate classes such as Zumba, which are very popular but can be crowded.
“It’s amazing someone hasn’t whacked someone in the face,” Lowe said. “It’s pretty crazy.”
Remodels also are needed in the locker rooms and the lobby area.
The Hot Springs undertook a significant remodel project in 2007 that included upgrading the hot springs pools, replacing the water slides, upgrading the outdoor deck and other improvements. That work, considered Phase 1 of planned facility improvements, cost approximately $2.5 million.
Lowe said the Hot Springs cannot afford any future improvements without a fundraising campaign.
“Raising our prices is not going to get us to the money that we need,” Lowe said.
Hot Springs Director Pat Carney said the facility has between 2,300 and 2,500 single and family memberships, which equates to 4,500 to 5,000 users. The Hot Springs can see more than 1,000 people on busy summer days and 500 people each day during the winter, along with people who pay a daily fee.
Going forward, Carney said the Hot Springs needs to put together some hard numbers about the economic impact the facility has on the community and why it is valuable.
“Our impact is big here,” Carney said.
Once the economic impact is clear, Carney said the Hot Springs would be able to better communicate its story with the community, and hopefully potential donors will start to view it as a nonprofit similar to Strings Music Festival, Yampa Valley Medical Center or the Steamboat Springs Art Council.
“We need to communicate that we need to be a given ... because what would this community be without us?” Carney said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com