Hayden community center initiative on November ballot
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Voters in Hayden will be asked Nov. 3 to approve a 1-cent sales tax increase to fund renovations and operations at the new Hayden community center.
In January, the town of Hayden agreed to purchase a portion of the old high school from the Hayden School District for $50,000.
“The high school has been the heart of the community for a number of years,” said Hayden Mayor Tim Redmond.
The plan for the new Hayden Center includes a home for the summer and after-school Totally Kids program, the gymnasium, a creative arts wing, space for vocational and technical training and other continuing education classes, the auditorium and a health and family services section.
Redmond also described plans for a “community living room” for people of all ages and the potential for 24-hour-use of the gymnasium for kids, using a key card access.
The plan would be to give the Totally Kids program room to expand, Redmond said. Ideally, there would be a future addition of a Totally Tots program for infants and toddlers — for which Redmond notes there is always a significant need in the community.
Based on meetings and a survey, Hayden residents overwhelmingly expressed support for the project. Redmond said a community survey resulted in 87% approval.
“That gave us the courage to step out on a limb and commit to the purchase before the tax measure,” he said.
The school district faced a March 1 deadline to either turn the building over to another entity or finalize demolition plans, as per stipulations of the $38.8 million BEST grant, which is helping to fund the construction of the new pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade campus.
The old middle school will be demolished, and the remaining portion of the high school will require asbestos remediation and roof and HVAC repairs, among other needs, said Town Manager Mathew Mendisco.
The town has not yet purchased the building, as they are waiting until the school moves into their new facility.
The $50,000 will come from the town’s general fund, Mendisco said. The building was appraised at $650,000, Redmond said, and the town offered $100,000 after an initial request for the district to donate the building.
Mendisco said to his knowledge, there were no other serious offers to purchase the space.
Ballot measure 2A, explained Mendisco, increases the town’s sales tax by 1 cent per dollar and will provide dedicated funding to the center. According to the ballot language, “Restricted as to use solely for parks and recreation purposes, including but not limited to the Hayden Center, recreation development, acquisition, construction, renovation, equipment, operation and maintenance of park and recreation facilities and improvements or revenue bonds issued for such purpose.”
The measure is estimated to raise $240,000 annually and would exist in perpetuity to allow for a dedicated stream of funding for continued programming and operational costs at the center.
“If we are going to commit, we need to commit,” Mendisco said, and plan long-term.
Ballot measure 2B, he said, is a debt question and allows Hayden to raise capital for the first phase.
The first phase, Mendisco said, would make the necessary repairs and renovate the Totally Kids space, at an estimated cost of $3.2 million to $3.7 million.
The next two phases would remodel the education and creative arts wings and the health and family services space.
The total project, including phase one, Mendisco said, is estimated between $5.5 million and $7.5 million.
Redmond sees limitless possibilities with what the center can bring to the town. It can be a home for organizations like the Boy Scouts and other nonprofits, he said. The town recently acquired some spin bikes as the pool had to downsize, he said, and there’s the opportunity for school sports teams to use indoor and outdoor space for practice.
Through the theater and creative arts space, Redmond also sees the opportunity to offer more performing arts in Hayden, as well as a place for residents to explore their own creative outlets.
If the upcoming ballot measures were to fail, the Totally Kids would still be able to use existing space, Mendisco said, but wouldn’t be able to expand.
Totally Kids is currently operating out of a temporary space in a church.
Under that scenario, Redmond said the town would regroup and look at other funding sources — which he said they are already doing.
“We don’t expect people to pay for everything,” he said.
Redmond said the town would pick up the cost to do the bare minimum to give Totally Kids a home.
If it does fail this year, Mendisco said they will likely go back to public for another vote.
Redmond said the town has worked to be transparent with everything they are doing related to the center and have already applied for other grant funding.
It is an asset that belongs to the community, he said. “They have ownership. They decide what will be happening in there.”
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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Though the city of Steamboat Springs saw a slight decline in 2020 sales tax revenue as COVID-19 hit Routt County, the city is expected to catch up to its 2019 revenues.