JoEllen Heydon: The time is now | SteamboatToday.com

JoEllen Heydon: The time is now

For close to 10 years, studies and surveys have been done showing that the residents of Steamboat want and need a community recreation center. The idea is to construct a centralized facility that is all-encompassing and multi-generational for use by children, seniors, singles, families, locals and visitors. A community recreation center is just as the name implies – a centralized facility where community members can go and experience a positive and friendly atmosphere.

Citizens for a Community Recreation Center (CCRC) is leading the charge on this mission to satisfy the unmet recreation needs of Steamboat. Local gym space is at or beyond capacity. Additional gym space could be used for basketball, volleyball, soccer, wrestling, lacrosse and more. CCRC believes that Steamboat needs an indoor aquatics area with a wade-in pool and water features for younger children and a lap pool and diving well for year-round swimming lessons, lap swimming, diving, water aerobics, scuba and kayak lessons and more.

A proposed indoor playground would benefit families and youth programs, as our only current option is the indoor playground at McDonald’s. The recreation center would also include a walking/running track, an outdoor skate park and a youth/teen center. It would provide a place for the city’s day camp and after-school programs in place of the “Igloo.” The facility also has space for a future turf field expansion to help accommodate field sports during the shoulder seasons.

A decade of research and community input has indicated that the facilities and activities mentioned above have all been identified as Steamboat’s unmet recreation needs. Additionally, a comprehensive recreation center should include fitness facilities so that parents can work out while kids are doing their activities and multiple activities can be achieved at one location.

CCRC believes that a facility with these recreation options will complement Old Town Hot Springs, which has the unique features of outdoor hot springs and aquatics. Options for expanding at the Old Town Hot Springs property with the construction of an indoor pool have been thoroughly researched, but studies have found the costs to be too high because of the inherent limitations of space, parking and accessibility.

Steamboat is clearly a growing community. Based on studies of Steamboat’s realized and projected growth, consultants have informed City Council that if a recreation center is constructed and opens in the year 2010, as projected, our community will still be “behind the curve,” or struggling to meet the space and time requirements for indoor recreation users. If there are problems finding gymnasium space, parking, pool time, and workout equipment today, imagine the scenario in the next three to five years.

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Barker Rinker Seacat and GreenPlay LLC (the consultants), city staff and CCRC are working on the best method for financing a proposed bond issue for a recreation center at the Ski Town fields near the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. The consultants have conservatively estimated costs to avoid any surprises during actual construction. These consultants have an excellent record of not going over budget. CCRC has also begun a private fundraising campaign in the hopes of alleviating some of the cost burden on our community.

For those who are initially opposed to this proposed ballot issue, we ask that you look at the information that has been and will be gathered. We believe you will come to the same conclusion that we have: The time is now to move forward with this project. Vote yes for the Ski Town Recreation Center.

JoEllen Heydon

Chairwoman, Citizens for a Community Recreation Center