Pushing for a rec center vote | SteamboatToday.com

Pushing for a rec center vote

Supporters want $18 million bond issue to go on ballot

If you go

What: Meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council When: 5 p.m. Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St. Call: 879-2060

Before the meeting There will be an Open House displaying plans for redevelopment at the Steamboat Ski Area base, in Centennial Hall from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Project manager Brent Lloyd will present the plans at 5 p.m.

— A new recreation center could be on the ballot for Steamboat Springs voters in November.

As part of a hefty agenda for tonight’s meeting, the Steamboat Springs City Council will discuss putting an $18 million bond issue on the ballot. The funds would require a property tax and would be used to construct a new recreation center on a 37-acre site near Anglers Drive, adjacent to Rita Valentine Park.

Tonight’s agenda also includes ballot proposals to spend $2 million on solar energy systems for three city facilities, to increase pay for council members and to create a taxpayer-funded General Improvement District near the base of Steamboat Ski Area.

Council members also are scheduled to conduct the first of two discussions about One Steamboat Place, a proposed mixed-use development including 85 residential units, a large public plaza, and 15,000 square feet of commercial space near the Gondola building. Finally, the council is scheduled to decide whether to extend the city’s contract with Triple Crown Sports through summer 2008.

“It’s going to be a very busy meeting,” City Clerk Julie Jordan said Monday.

Community groups led by Shannon Lukens, Susan Petersen and JoEllen Heydon are coordinating the effort to put a recreation center on this year’s ballot. Petersen is the recreation supervisor for the city’s Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department, but she said her job is separate from her support of the ballot issue.

“This is really a citizen-led kind of thing,” Petersen said Friday. “It’s not staff-driven.”

Placing a ballot proposal before the council culminates a process that began in 1999 and has accelerated during the past two years. A $37,000 feasibility study has been conducted, and numerous meetings and public forums have been held in 2005 and 2006.

On June 13 and July 18, the City Council heard presentations from recreation-center supporters – including Steamboat Parents for an Aquatic Recreation Center Soon, or SPARCS, and Citizens for a Community Recreation Center, or CRCC – and directed the groups to continue developing facility plans and language for a ballot proposal.

The groups met near the end of July, Lukens said, and decided to move forward with proposing a ballot issue for Nov. 7.

Lukens said recreation-center supporters are not deterred by a potentially crowded ballot. The Steamboat Springs School District also may ask voters to approve a $30 million bond for construction and improvements at the city’s two elementary schools.

“We’re going to move forward with what the groups decided to do,” Lukens said.

The ballot proposal also asks voters to support an additional property tax, which would generate $545,000 a year, to fund operating and maintenance costs of the recreation center.

Jordan said supporters are not only on a tight time schedule for getting council approval and ballot-language certification, but also for informing local residents about what kind of center they are proposing.

“Public education and outreach is so important in our community, especially when such a large amount of money is involved,” Jordan said. “There are a lot of people who really have no idea what’s going on. The neighborhood in that (Anglers Drive) area has not been notified yet.”

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