Midvalley rec center stumbles in P&Z review
EL JEBEL – A proposal for a midvalley recreation center was rejected 3-2 Thursday by the Roaring Fork Regional Planning and Zoning Commission in an advisory vote.The vote didn’t kill the project. It will still advance to the Eagle County commissioners for review and a possible decision on June 28.Thursday’s 3 1/2-hour meeting was punctuated by a variety of motions that died from lack of seconds and motions that divided the board. On the vote that counted, planning commissioners Temple Glassier, Nicole Levesque and Kim Bock voted to recommend denial of the recreation center. Planning commissioners Jay Leavitt and Kelly McKenney voted to support it.The indoor recreation center is being proposed by Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District’s board of directors as well as a citizens’ committee. The proposed site is slightly west or downvalley from the existing Eagle County office building and parking lot at Crown Mountain Park.The first phase would be a 63,000-square-foot facility featuring an indoor pool, work-out rooms, a climbing wall, an indoor track and meeting space. A second phase would add a competitive pool and a gymnastics center, boosting the size of the building to 85,000 square feet.McKenney said the facility would attract people of all ages, making it a community meeting place and helping El Jebel establish an identity.Leavitt said the recreation center is a much-needed amenity located at a site that is “almost perfect.”That’s not a universal view. The county commissioners, as landlords of the property, have expressed concerns about the site. They feel it should be moved closer to the county office building so parking could be shared.County officials have also expressed concern about the extra strain the recreation facility will place on the intersection of Valley Road and Highway 82.Crown Mountain planning consultant Davis Farrar said traffic issues are a 25-year-old problem in El Jebel. He said Crown Mountain is willing to pitch in to pay for traffic flow solutions, but it shouldn’t get stuck with the entire bill. By the district’s estimate, it will be responsible for about 28 percent of the intersection’s traffic in year 2030.Farrar said the district also feels it has selected the best site for the recreation center after an extensive assessment of multiple options at Crown Mountain and elsewhere in the midvalley.Farrar emphasized in his presentation that the roughly 7,000 midvalley residents who live in the Crown Mountain Park district boundaries should be given a chance to vote on whether or not they will fund the project. If Eagle County grants land use approvals, the district might ask voters as soon as November to raise property taxes for a $25 million construction bond and to raise $500,000 annually for operations of the recreation center.”Please don’t pre-empt them,” Farrar said.But county officials want the right to explore other sites. The planning staff urged the planning commission to include a condition of approval that would reserve the right for further exploration of sites – something Crown Mountain vehemently opposed.Bock said she supported retaining the ability to examine the site. She also insisted that the planning commission reserve the right to look at a more detailed plan for the 63,000-square-foot building before granting final approval.Levesque said she wanted Crown Mountain Park’s board to focus on making final improvements to the outdoor facilities before looking at an indoor recreation center. The master plan for the park includes amenities like a skateboard park, BMX track and community garden.Glassier indicated traffic was a major concern for her. She said improvements to traffic circulation cannot be deferred any longer. Improvements must be made along with any approvals for new development, she said.The review will start anew when the county commissioners take up the discussion. The public will get a chance to comment on the proposal. The agenda for June 28 hasn’t been released yet, but the commissioners typically meet in El Jebel on matters critical to the Basalt and El Jebel firstname.lastname@example.org
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