Steamboat City Council withdraws support for Igloo youth center replacement project | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat City Council withdraws support for Igloo youth center replacement project

Youth program specialist Alexis Wolf holds a large group meeting at the Igloo, where the Afterschool Action program is held.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The city of Steamboat Springs' plan to build a new child care and youth activity center to replace one known as the Igloo melted this week after facing intense public scrutiny.

After getting an earful from several concerned constituents, the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night reversed course and voted unanimously to pull the plug on the more than $900,000 project to build a new 2,500-square-foot modular to replace the Igloo.

The council will instead try to find a better solution, including putting the programming at a different facility, by the end of the school year.

Most members also expressed support for finding a way for the city to continue the after-school programming that occurs at the Igloo.

The current facility is more than three decades old and in danger of failing future building inspections, according to city officials.

Five council members last week directed the city to continue with the project despite dramatic price increases and setbacks over the last year.

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But after receiving a flood of letters from community members, many of whom thought the project had grown too expensive, all five of those members changed their positions Tuesday and decided the city shouldn't continue with the project.

"Shame on us for not asking a lot more questions last week," councilwoman Lisel Petis said as the council spent time Tuesday pondering whether there is a better, less-pricey solution to replacing the Igloo itself.

The council reviewed data on Tuesday that suggested while the Igloo's programming was full and popular in the summer, it was not at capacity during other months.

It is licensed to hold up to 15 children, ages 2.5 to 5, at a time.

Councilwoman Robin Crossan said the council should reach out to potential partners such as the Steamboat Springs School District and the Boys and Girls Club of Steamboat to see if there could be a possible partnership formed with them.

The idea quickly caught traction with other council members.

"Let's start the process of working with all these other groups to come up with a comprehensive solution," councilman Jason Lacy said.

Some council members floated the idea of trying to include a new youth activity space in the project to expand Howelsen Ice Arena.

Councilman Scott Ford, who has opposed the Igloo replacement from the beginning, maintained his position that providing children's programming is not a core function of government.

He suggested the private sector could fill those needs at a time the city's expenses are soon expected to surpass its revenues.

Councilwoman Kathi Meyer opposed the project last week due to its ever-climbing price tag.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10.

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