Our view: Igloo no frozen treat | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Igloo no frozen treat

"The next step could be jump-starting a dialogue with established childcare centers in the community to find out how the city can, in a cost-effective way, be a part of the solution." — Editorial board

We hope when Steamboat Springs City Council reconvenes Sept. 19, it re-thinks its informal Sept. 12 decision to go well over budget and award a building contract outside the formal bidding process to fast track the replacement of its aging childcare facility known colloquially as the Igloo.

The project would replace the current 1,380-square foot modular Igloo with a new, 2,280-square-foot modular.

In Aug 2015 council was planning to spend about $260,000 for a new modular building, to replace the 35-year old structure that was never really designed to house a modern childcare facility.  The project was part of the city's 2016 budget, and the plan was to place the new structure on city land near the entrance to the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena.

Relocating the facility  would also make way for the addition of a second sheet of ice to the skating facility.

But the cost of the project has escalated dramatically in part because of $131,513 in-site work related partially to the fact that the building would be placed in the floodplain.

Ironically, the city of Steamboat Srings, with a reputation for compelling private sector developers to build sidewalks that sometimes don't link to any existing sidewalks, would have to build its own sidewalk  for the new childcare building at a cost of $11,598. And the cost of excavating the site is estimated at almost $70,000.

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“As the price increases, there are legitimate questions to be asked,” Alan Lind, the city’s director of general services, said recently.

City Councilman Scott Ford question whether the city should be in the childcare business. We are not philosophically opposed to the municipal parks and recreation department to playing that role if it can be done cost effectively.

But in the case of the Igloo, we wonder if the city might do better by partnering with a private sector provider, or collaborating with schools in the community to locate a childcare staffed by city employees.

City Councilwoman Kathi Meyer turned to Lind, a relatively new hire at the city, to possibly bring some fresh ideas for the project that could save the city money.

"My concern is this is the time to stop and ask questions and see if there are any alternatives, for the building, not for the child care program," she said.

We honor the city of Steamboat's intentions in supporting the community with a limited amount of childcare. But even if it means shutting down the city facility and following up with their client-families to learn how they replace that service, it's time to put the Igloo on ice.

The next step could be jump-starting a dialogue with established childcare centers in the community to find out how the city can, in a cost-effective way, be a part of the solution.

At issue: City Council’s ill-considered plans to replace the Igloo

Our view: We’re confident there are more cost-efficient means to replace the city of Steamboat’s “Igloo” childcare facility than spending more than $900,000 on a new 2,500-square-foot building in the floodplain of the Yampa River

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