The South Routt Community Center, home to meals for seniors and after-school programs, lands $141,500 grant | SteamboatToday.com

The South Routt Community Center, home to meals for seniors and after-school programs, lands $141,500 grant

The hub of South Routt gets a boost

The South Routt Community Center in Oak Creek (as it appeared in 2007), will soon see energy and ventilation upgrades thanks to a $141,500 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

— From baby showers to meals for seniors, from higher education to a food bank, the South Routt Community Center in Oak Creek is an essential hub for several communities, including Stagecoach, Phippsburg and Yampa. And now, the 1980s building is in line for some upgrades that will make it more livable, thanks to a $141,500 Community Development Block Grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA).

A new ventilation system and more efficient window treatments will help make the building much more energy efficient and comfortable, Oak Creek Town Administrator/Clerk Mary Alice Page-Allen said May 18. And the new light fixtures and LED light bulbs throughout the building will make the community center more economical to operate.

"The problem with the building is, nobody's loved it in a long time,” Page-Allen said. "It's truly a South Routt facility that's as valuable to community as housing is."

The community center plays host to the Routt County Council on Aging's meals for seniors program and the Oak Creek Public Library. Local families take advantage of after-school and summer programs for youngsters there, and the LiftUp of Routt County food bank and Routt County Human Services are also located in the building. It even provides office space for Colorado Northwestern Community College, which has been expanding the online courses it offers at Soroco High School.

Oak Creek Mayor Nikki Knoebel, who is also Routt County United Way president, hosted a board retreat for leaders around the area at the community center this month. She said the after-school and summer program (entering its fourth summer) have been quite popular, averaging a dozen youngsters in the after-school program and 40 during the summer.

"It's a great thing to give families options when they work all day," Knoebel said. "We wanted to push that program to be educationally driven."

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Located at 227 South Dodge Ave. in Oak Creek, the building is owned by the town of Oak Creek and managed by the nonprofit South Routt Community Corporation. It was originally built under the auspices of the county, Page-Allen said, on land owned by the town. Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan is president of the board of the Community Corporation, and Tom Lilly, who is vice president, is also board president for the library board.

The DOLA grant will be matched with $8,000 from the Community Corporation and $500 from the town's electric conservation fund.

LiftUp Executive Director Laura von Boecklin praised Page-Allen for helping the board of directors of the Community Corporation to restore the vitality of the community center.

"We're seeing that it's being run with incredible professionalism, and issues with deferred maintenance are being taken care of," von Boecklin said. "I just think she's breathed new life into that space with the town of Oak Creek."

The alterations to the building were largely driven by an energy audit that showed the structure was badly in need of better air circulation, though the windows did not need to be replaced (some will be repaired).

"On the third story (where the food bank is) you can't sit up there in the middle of summer," Page Allen said. "The air is just dead."

Soon, that won't be the case any longer.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1