Hayden asks Routt County for support to renovate Hayden Center
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the current status of Totally Kids. They were temporarily disallowed to operate in the church, but are now back there on a temporary basis until the Hayden Center space is ready.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Hayden is asking Routt County for $100,000 to help remodel the town’s old high school into the new Hayden Center to provide places for childcare, adult classes and recreation among other things.
“Speaking to all of our youth, the biggest issue is that they don’t have places to go, especially in the winter,” said Mathew Mendisco, Hayden town manager.
The money would either pay for construction of a wall to separate the old high school and middle school, or if Hayden gets a grant to build the wall, the money would support renovations to space used by Totally Kids, a local nonprofit focused on youth activities.
Routt County Board of Commissioners did not allocate any money on Tuesday but voiced general support for the project.
“I would probably be more inclined for us to support this in more of a general way,” said Commissioner Beth Melton.
Commissioner Doug Monger wondered where the county would find the money for the project and worried that a contribution now could require more later. Still, Monger said it was a good project that would be good for West Routt County.
“At this point, I am supportive of helping out on this project,” said Commissioner Tim Corrigan. “I would be really wanting to limit the county’s financial participation to this upfront to help to get the ball rolling but would rather not get dragged down into some longterm financial commitment to make sure the project is successful.”
The vision is that the Hayden Center will be a regional center, not just for Hayden. Mendisco said the town has a Steamboat Springs resident looking to teach private soccer lessons at the center. He anticipates the center will be able to financially support itself in five years.
“We’ve been working pretty hard to put another house of cards together, to make this project happen,” said Mary Alice Page-Allen, planning and economic development director for Hayden. “We’re looking at every resource we can possibly find to bring to bear on this.”
Mendisco said the town is starting to look at Hayden’s budget more like a private business, forcing them to think more about how to diversify their budget.
He said this trend would continue going forward, with any excess money going toward capital projects and ensuring the financial viability of the town. To save money, staff will not be receiving a wage increase this year, with raises being held over until 2022.
Hayden will need to utilize some of its general fund reserves to cover loss of revenue because of COVID-19 and the reduction in airport taxes collected, though town officials anticipate recovering from the budget shortfall by 2022.
Much of the project will be funded by the bond issue passed by Hayden voters in November increasing sales tax by one cent that will raise about $1.7 million — a conservative estimate because of COVD-19.
The town will officially close on buying the old building from the Hayden School District in two weeks.
Totally Kids is currently operating in a community church, though they had to leave the space temporarily because of a positive COVID-19 test.
“We are really in a bind, we need to get (Totally Kids) up and running as soon as possible,” Mendisco said. “It is our number one priority.”
One of the first priorities is to build a wall that separates the high school from the middle school building, which the school district will still own. The district is currently having asbestos mitigated from the middle school building before they begin demolition on it this summer.
Once the wall is in place, Totally Kids will start work in the building. Constructing the wall and doing about $200,000 in mechanical and other necessary upgrades will get the program into the space.
In all, the project will have four different building phases and cost about $5.7 million.
The first phase, set to begin in May or June, will cost about $2.5 million and will upgrade mechanical and ventilation systems, fix the roof and complete the Totally Kids remodel.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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