Aspen Recreation Center going through a half-million dollar remodel
The city is carrying out a $500,000 upgrade of the Aspen Recreation Center to accommodate an increase in users and make better use of under-utilized space.
The basement of the ARC has already seen big changes as the size of the weight room has doubled.
“We used to say that the weight room was crowded with five people,” joked Erin Hutchins, the ARC’s operations manager.
The workout area has been expanded to 1,000 square feet and is connected to the lobby area of the Lewis Ice Arena where there is now a customer service counter and skate rentals.
“We’ve gone to bowling style,” said Cody Vander Veen, recreation director at the ARC.
The storage area where the skate rentals used to be is currently being renovated to create a NHL-style changing room that will be used by junior hockey and other visiting teams during tournament play.
It will be buffed out even more as crews knock out the wall to connect the current junior hockey changing room and the adjacent women’s bathroom that has nine sinks and seven shower heads that rarely get used.
“If you can imagine, one of those nice NHL rooms. … We have a lot of potential here,” Vander Veen said.
Hutchins added that planners are considering a massage room or a cold plunge as part of the new amenities.
“We are just making use of the under-utilized space,” Hutchins said. “We are trying to have some open space for people.”
Improvements to the weight room will continue as new equipment is ordered, including more machines and a new fleet of spin bikes.
A partition will close off part of the room so yoga and spin classes can be held.
Hutchins said members haven’t been shy about asking for specific items to round out their workouts.
“There are a lot of requests for specific equipment,” she said.
The ARC citizen advisory board will be involved in equipment selection.
Hutchins added with The Aspen Club closing over two years ago and its partnership with other facilities ending, there has been an increase in usage by an estimated 500 people at the ARC.
“There are a lot of people who need an affordable place to workout,” Hutchins said.
The NHL room will be finished by the end of the year, and plans are underway to renovate the lobby area at the entrance to the ice rink, which could include couches, chairs and perhaps a fireplace, Vander Veen said.
In a memo he wrote to Aspen City Council, Vander Veen said the changes are in response to surveys, focus-group discussions, the recreation department’s business plan, recommendations by the advisory committee and input from users.
The downstairs remodel project serves as a temporary solution until a better, more well-defined future expansion plan for the facility is finalized, according to the memo.
The advisory committee is working on that expansion plan and there is not a set schedule of when the work will be complete.
“We haven’t lost sight that we have a long way to go,” Hutchins said.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.