A new era begins in Woody Creek | AspenTimes.com

A new era begins in Woody Creek

John Colson
Aspen, CO Colorado

WOODY CREEK ” After being closed for a year and a half, the Woody Creek Community Center is reopening Saturday with an open house from 2-7 p.m.

And according to the director of the revitalized center, the facility is open to ” and hoping for ” involvement of people throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

“The beauty of it is, we really expect the valleywide community, people from all up and down the valley, to come in here and say, ‘I know what I can do in here,'” said Ann Owsley, who described herself as “the director, manager and chief bottle washer” for the center, since she is the sole paid employee.

Dubbed WC3 by Woody Creek benefactor and physicist George Stranahan (that’s physics-speak for Woody Creek cubed), the building that houses the center is part of a complex of structures built by Lee Jones back in the late 1940s. The buildings currently house the Woody Creek Tavern and the Woody Creek Art Studio, in addition to the WC3 facility, and are located adjacent to the Woody Creek Trailer Park.

Owsley said the WC3’s hours will be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It also will be open Sunday mornings. The services offered include a coffee shop in the mornings, and soups, breads and other snacks for sale throughout the day.

Wine tastings will be held periodically, courtesy of the Woody Creek Cellars, and the wine will be for sale seven days a week at the counter, Owsley said, thanks to a “special dispensation from the state Legislature that permits the sale of agricultural products on Sundays.”

The second floor of the building will provide income to the nonprofit WC3 organization, in the form of rent receipts from the two small offices that are now accessed from a stairway on the outside back of the building. The internal stairway that once lead upstairs has been eliminated.

Closed in May 2006 by Pitkin County, the building has undergone a complete overhaul, beginning with the shoring up of the main floor with what Owsley said is “a sea of columns” in the basement, where there is now a full commercial kitchen for the preparation of food at WC3 events and for lease to outside organizations and individuals.

The work also has included the installation of energy-efficient windows and doors, as well as a new radiant floor using water heated by what she said is a “super-efficient boiler.”

The renovations, Owsley said, have cost “around $400,000,” which was raised by a campaign that brought in donations ranging in size from $10 to $50,000, numerous in-kind donations of work and equipment, and an $80,000 grant from the Community Office of Resource Efficiency.

Owlsey, however, stressed that “the fundraising is not over.” She said there remains some work to be done, at an estimated additional cost of $60,000, which she hopes to raise from the community at large.

Over the years, the complex has hosted a variety of uses, including a grocery store and gas station, a post office, an on-site home for the manager of the trailer park, an art gallery and, according to local lore, a kind of flop-house where rooms were rented out.

Formerly known as the Woody Creek Store, the space now occupied by WC3 had been used recently as an art gallery, small grocery vendor and the meeting place of the Woody Creek Caucus, which advises Pitkin County on land-use issues in the neighborhood. Those uses will continue, Owsley said.

Use of the building was donated by its former owners, George and Patti Stranahan, to the WC3 nonprofit organization. The building itself, Owsley said, is being deeded in perpetuity to the Manaus Fund, a nonprofit created by Stranahan and others in 2005, with the purpose of helping other nonprofits get better at raising money and remaining in existence.

So, Owsley said, “We are a project of the Manaus Fund,” an arrangement that she said means it will not easily end up on the auction block for conversion to private purposes.

She noted that it is “a rare example of somebody taking an old house and renovating it with energy-efficient technology, instead of just tearing it down.”

The WC3 is at 0006 Woody Creek Plaza, roughly nine miles west of Aspen on the Upper River Road, and can be reached by phone at 922-2342.

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