Expanded Howelsen Ice Arena could include teen center, youth programming spaces | SteamboatToday.com

Expanded Howelsen Ice Arena could include teen center, youth programming spaces

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

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — City officials in Steamboat Springs are exploring the possibility of housing all of the city's youth programming, and perhaps even a new teen center, in a new space at the Howelsen Ice Arena.

The concept has emerged after the council pulled the plug on building a new modular building to replace the aging Igloo after that project skyrocketed in cost to nearly $1 million, prompting a community outcry against it.

City council members are also trying to rename the concept from the Igloo to the Youth Programming Space, or YPS.

On Tuesday, the council agreed to start conversations with the planners behind the second sheet of ice at the arena to see if a city-funded youth center could be incorporated into their plans.

"This could be a win-win for not only the city but also the hockey players, lacrosse players and anyone else who utilizes the facility," councilwoman Heather Sloop said.

A new space next to the second sheet of ice, which could be built as soon as next summer or fall, could house Afterschool Action programming for school children and Adventure Bound Summer Camp programs.

Recommended Stories For You

The new teen center could be housed in a new second story of the ice arena.

The idea was met with an early positive reaction from some council members.

"Are you aware this was proposed 15 years ago?" councilwoman Kathi Meyer asked. "I think this is great."

Plans for a teen center came up most recently in 2010, when the city's parks and recreation department proposed a two-story addition to the lobby of the ice arena to create a teen center.

That plan was never realized.

Steamboat Today reported back then that the plans for a teen center had already had at least a 15-year history in Steamboat.

In the 1990s, The Dock teen center was housed in a commercial building that previously contained an auto parts store near 11th and Yampa streets. That site has since been redeveloped with a mixed-use residential commercial center.

The revived talks about a teen center are in the preliminary stage, and Sloop cautioned her fellow council members that the teen center part of the plan might still be years away.

The plans will ultimately depend on the city's financial situation and the appetite of a city council to make it happen.

"We may not put a second floor on there for 25 years, but if we build the first floor the right way (and put in the utility connections and infrastructure), we might be able to save future councils a lot of money," Sloop said.

The City Council has agreed to use $900,000 in reserve lodging tax funds to help make the second sheet of ice a reality.

Council members have not yet identified the potential costs of adding space for youth programming into the plans.

Councilwoman Robin Crossan said the committee working on the design for the second sheet of ice has been interested in discussing an add-on for youth programs.

"They've been really kind and offered that up," she said.

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