Committee recommends recreation facility with pools |

Committee recommends recreation facility with pools

Mike Lawrence

Parker Schell juggles a soccer ball Monday on a soccer field at Ski Town Fields on Pine Grove Road. The Steamboat Springs City Council could decide tonight whether to place tax funding for a $34 million recreation center at the site on November's ballot.

— Tax funding for a $34 million recreation center at Ski Town Fields could be on the ballot for Steamboat Springs voters in November.

The Recreational Needs Exploratory Committee will recommend tonight that the Steamboat Springs City Council move forward with design plans for such a facility, which would be located on Pine Grove Road near The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs. City-owned athletic fields currently occupy the site. The recommended facility would include space for youth and teen programs, an indoor playground, a double-sized gymnasium, a fitness center, and aquatic features including a six-lane lap pool, diving well and leisure pool.

The committee is a local group that for the past two months has built on the work of recreation consultants hired by the city in January. The committee used results from a recent survey to create its recommendation.

“Incorporating the citizen survey response (which supports the Ski Town ball field site at 62 percent) and a consolidated program of $34 million : is the best approach,” the committee stated in its report to city staff and council members. “Support for this building program has seen vocal confirmation in public meetings, informal surveys and focus groups.”

The report does not say whether a ballot issue would ask voters for sales tax funding, property tax funding or both to fund the recreation center.

Discussions about building a recreation center in Steamboat date back to at least 1999, when city-hired consultants conducted a study about local recreation needs. In 2006, a group of local parents attempted to put a recreation center on the ballot, but failed because of time constraints. The City Council decided to take a year to develop more specific plans and gather public input, a process that could take a major step forward tonight.

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Shannon Lukens, a local parent who helped lead last year’s recreation center effort, cheered Monday when she heard about the committee’s recommendation.

“Our groups are ready to wholeheartedly back it,” Lukens said, speaking for Citizens for a Community Recreation Center and Steamboat Parents for an Aquatic Recreation Center Soon. “We will make sure the community is educated and we will make sure this is passed – just put it on the ballot, that’s all we ask.”

City Manager Alan Lanning cautioned that the committee’s recommendation will only provide information to the City Council and does not guarantee a ballot issue.

“This is only intended to assist the council in making a decision about whether to put it on the ballot,” Lanning said. “This is a significant amount of money.”

City Council President Susan Dellinger said Monday she supports the committee’s recommendation.

“It looks like we can take it to the ballot,” Dellinger said. “We’ll have to decide (tonight), because of the timeframe.”

The city has $250,000 in 2007 capital funds earmarked for recreation center design and planning. Should the City Council decide to place a $34 million center on the ballot, recreation consultants from Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture and Greenplay, LLC, would likely be commissioned to create specific building designs, elevations and costs in preparation for November.

“The city has really done its research, and it shows that this is what people want,” Lukens said. “We want the people to be able to decide.”