Emerald City could get cut | SteamboatToday.com

Emerald City could get cut

Municipal budget may not have room for lease

Avi Salzman

— Funding for the lease on Emerald City, Steamboat’s multi-purpose downtown youth center, is in danger of being slashed from the city’s 2002 budget, two City Council members said Thursday.

Both Councilman Ken Brenner and Council President Pro Tem Kathy Connell expressed concern about the potential loss of the center, which its youth director said is open about 350 days out of the year and houses numerous programs.

Both council members vowed to work on either meeting the funding gap or figuring out how to move the city’s afterschool programs to another location, potentially working with the school district.

“I’m extremely concerned because our afterschool programs are really important for our youth and our kids the future of the community and I know we have got budget constraints,” Connell said.

Steamboat School District Superintendent Cyndy Simms said she would be open to talking with the city about moving the afterschool programs to school buildings.

She would not say whether she has been approached about that option as of yet.

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City officials would not release documents about the potential cuts nor discuss the cuts in the budget until the full budget is distributed to City Council.

The City Council will review the budget on Oct. 2 at its full-day budget retreat and has final say over all cuts, but initial recommendations for cuts are made by individual departments and the city manager and finance director.

Council members predict that this year’s budget will be full of cuts.

“It’s going to be a tough budget year,” said Councilman Jim Engelken.

Connell said she had received some budget paperwork already, but has not seen the line item about Emerald City. She said she expects to receive the budget workbook today.

The city is currently in negotiations with the owner of Emerald City and has been for more than a year, said Chris Wilson, the director of Parks and Recreation. Wilson would not comment on the 2002 budget or potential cuts until final budget numbers are released.

Stephen Carogol, whose holding company owns the land, said he has to raise the rent just to begin approaching his costs.

“I can’t afford to support it all by myself,” Carogol said. “I can no longer afford to be as charitable as I have been.”

Carogol has leased the property to the city for three years and the lease is up Dec. 31, 2001.

He said the loss of Rock and Roll Tubing as a tenant on the land near Emerald City made it virtually impossible for him to keep giving what he said is a discounted rate to the youth center.

Jennifer Rose, the youth program coordinator at Emerald City, said Carogol has been a very generous landlord in the past. She would not discuss nor confirm the potential closing of the building as a youth center.

Carogol said he has offered the property for sale to the city at a reduced price, but does not yet know what the city will decide. The property is currently on the market. Carogol said the city’s best choice would be to buy the property.

The current cost of the lease and the amount Carogol is now asking for the new lease were both unavailable at press time.

The Emerald City complex on 11th Street offers afterschool programs when school is in session and days off programs, as well as offering room for the Yampa Valley Partner program and the Community Youth Corps. During the summer, the facility is host to a summer camp.

It is also the home of The Underground, a substance-free night club for people 21 and under, and The Dock, for sixth through eighth graders. It is also rented out for birthday parties.

To reach Avi Salzman, call 871-4203 or e-mail asalzman@steamboatpilot.com.