South Routt gets $35K from county for community center expansion

The South Routt Community Center in Oak Creek as it appeared in 2007.
Steamboat Pilot & Today

The Routt County Board of Commissioners has approved a $35,000 contribution for improvements at the South Routt Community Center, which is expanding into space recently vacated by the Oak Creek Public Library.

The library completed a move to a new location in downtown Oak Creek last December, opening up the first floor of the building and hopefully easing tensions that occasionally arise when trying to accommodate increasingly popular community programs.

“We have 25 kids on one side of the room, and just beyond a thin barrier wall is the Routt County Council on Aging seniors having their lunches,” said Erika Peterson, Oak Creek’s parks and recreation coordinator. “There’s a lot going on upstairs.”

The upstairs of the South Routt Community Center can get crowded with various groups separated by just a thin accordion wall.
Erika Peterson/Courtesy photo

The contribution is identical to one given to Hayden to support construction on the Hayden Center last year and similar to a contribution given to Steamboat Springs for a new community center the city built in 2007.

Peterson said the hope is that the money from the county will cover construction to expand space available for various programs and allow Oak Creek to expand participation in after-school, Friday and summer camps.

The project will also add a kitchen that complies with state regulations for child care facilities, meaning it must have hand washing and food prep sinks, as well as a dishwasher and refrigerator.

“Summer camp is easily our most popular program,” Peterson said. “We had to limit our enrollment to only 25 kids per day because of the room capacity and vehicle limitations.”

The town has secured a third 15-person van to help support this summer’s campers, and with the anticipated upgrades, Peterson said she hopes the town will be able to offer 39 seats.

The community center also hosts after-school and Friday programs for students, as the South Routt School District operates on a four-day school week.

“This is especially important for parents that work in Steamboat and have to commute,” Peterson said. “Parents that work on Friday need a place for their kids to go since they don’t have school.”

The Friday program started last fall and currently has about 15 participants, Peterson said.

“The town has been committed to these programs for the last 12 years, putting in money each year,” said Oak Creek Town Manager David Torgler. “It’s rewarding to see the amount of participation and good reputation that the program has.”

Torgler emphasized that while the programs are run by the town, residents throughout South Routt use them, and Oak Creek can be a convenient spot to drop off students on the way to Steamboat.

“We talk about infant and toddler care a lot, but afterschool care is just as dire,” said Routt County Commissioner Beth Melton.

Commissioner Tim Redmond felt like $35,000 may not be enough for the work, but Peterson said the town has been firm with its general contractor about its financial limits. The town does have access to a $5,000 child care stabilization grant that could be used, though it is generally meant for tuition assistance.

After reviewing the bid for the project, Redmond said he felt like the contractor, Texter Mountain Construction, was essentially donating to the community based on what was quoted.

“That says a lot to me that the members of the community are going to step up, take ownership and support this,” Redmond said. “It’s a good program in a part of the county that needs more services, so I commend you.”

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