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Leadership Steamboat: Recreation center location crucial

The 2006-2007 class of Leadership Steamboat presents its community forum, Dialogue Before Decision. This forum is designed to encourage engaged and informed decision makers by connecting our community to information and purposeful dialogue on issues vital to the future of the Valley.

Location. Location. Location. Anyone who owns a business or has considered starting a new business knows that location is critical. Land options in Steamboat can be financially challenging. With our rapidly growing built environment, traffic considerations also affect site location.

Three phases have been discussed as possibilities in a community recreation center. The basic version includes a youth area, gymnasium, running/walking track, multipurpose room, kitchen, teen center, drop-in child area and support spaces. The second phase includes an aquatics area, and the third phase includes a field house, indoor playground, climbing wall and racquetball courts. The amount of space required to cover all three phases would be five to seven acres.



The city hired Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture to research and recommend potential sites for a community recreation center. BRS has a 20-year history of assisting more than 150 communities throughout the U.S. and Colorado with feasibility studies and designs of recreation centers.

BRS reviewed 37 potential sites in Steamboat Springs and narrowed the field to five. After extensive research and in-depth meetings with representatives from each site, BRS presented the city with findings on March 29. There are two options for meeting recreation needs, either in one multi-use facility or spread out between various locations. The sites are listed with a few of their benefits and detractions.



Single site options

Site 1: Howelsen Hill. Two areas at Howelsen Hill were investigated. The first was the Parks and Recreation area near the ice rink, and the second was the area of two baseball fields adjacent to the skate park. The first has been eliminated because of limited space and intrusion on the area slated for a future ice rink expansion. Use of the baseball fields requires relocating the fields. While there is plenty of space, increased development of this site may make this area too busy.

Site 2: Rita Valentine Park. While there is an abundance of space, 37 acres, there is considerable question about which acreage could actually be used for a recreation center. The topography of the site, highway access, as well as organized neighborhoods present the main challenges. The Rita Valentine Park Coalition, an alliance of bordering homeowner associations, has indicated a desire to retain Rita Valentine Park as open space. They advocate for using existing facilities and collaboration rather than developing current open space.

Site 3: Ski Town Park. This site, near the indoor tennis courts, has several positive attributes. The property is big enough to fit all three phases while incorporating the existing tennis center, trails and open space amenities. This site has excellent access from major highways. Intrawest has expressed an interest in partnering on the development of this site. In order to proceed with this location, two ball fields would need to be relocated.

Multiple site options

Site 4: Old Town Hot Springs. This site is being evaluated in conjunction with Memorial Park and the Post Office. Developing the aquatics amenities would be feasible due to the existing pool. The most significant obstacle with this site is that all three phases could not be developed. Use of this location would require relocating the Post Office, which would increase cost and development. Even with the Post Office relocation, there would be no space for a field house or parking. Using Memorial Park for a field house or parking could be a positive for a recreation center but a loss of a park. The Howelsen Hill area would also be considered for locating a Youth/Teen Building near the Lodge and a Field House.

Site 5: Strawberry Park School campus. This site is being evaluated for a gymnasium building for the school and public as part of the “spread-it-out-over-the-community” solution. This location involves solving security and public access issues and will require a long-term partnering between the city and the school district.

BRS will present its findings at a council meeting May 8. BRS will explain the process used to narrow the options from 37 sites and the pros and cons of the sites that were eliminated and those that made the cut. They will present an analysis of consolidating or diversifying recreation in Steamboat and how construction and operating costs affect that picture.

BRS will participate as a panel member at Dialogue Before Decision’s Forum on May 2 at Steamboat Mountain Theatre. Please submit questions, comments, and ideas that you would like addressed to dialoguebeforedecision@hotmail.com.


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