Midvalley rec center would not affect park land

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
This site plan shows where the proposed indoor recreation center, in upper center, fits in with Crown Mountain Park. The park's executive director said the center wouldn't affect the athletic fields or native area to the south.

Construction of a proposed midvalley recreation center wouldn’t gobble up athletic fields or push development into a “native area” on the south side of Crown Mountain Park, according to organizers.

The 63,000-square-foot facility would be situated in such a way in Crown Mountain Park that there would be “minimal impact” on existing facilities, according to Chris Woods, executive director of the park.

“Being director of this park, I’m very proud of the park,” Woods said. “I’ll fight tooth and nail to protect it.”

The Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District is inching toward a ballot proposal in November. The district is conducting a survey of constituents this month. Only widespread opposition would derail plans to seek voter approval.

If the proposal advances in November, voters will be asked two questions. One would seek approval of a $25 million bond issuance to construct the facility, and in a separate question, voters would be asked to approve a property tax for operations and maintenance.

District officials and proponents have been working on the plan for four years and have tried to address concerns. They have dodged one potential bullet by leaving the popular outdoor facilities alone.

A one-mile paved path forms a perimeter around 20 acres that form the core of the park. About 650 linear feet of the paved path would have to be relocated between an existing concession stand and a roundabout

In the core of the park are two baseball fields, four soccer and athletic fields, a playground and bermed seating areas. South of the southern end of the paved path is open space with no developed uses. Pedestrians created dirt paths throughout that area long before Crown Mountain Park was developed.

Woods said there is no need to move fields south of the paved path into the native area. That passive open space serves a useful purpose to some users of the park. On early-morning strolls, the shrill and joyful-sounding songs of meadowlarks frequently pierce the stillness and quiet of the native area. Earlier in the spring, dozens of bluebirds flit through the grass of the native area on their search for food. Raptors often perch on soaring cottonwood trees lining an irrigation ditch on the property line. They keep eyes open for their next meal.

“I understand there are people that use it just for walking dogs,” Woods said. “I don’t want the park to lose that element.”

The beauty of the 124-acre park is that it can accommodate numerous types of users, according to Woods. All constituencies have valid claims to the land.

“Who are we to say what is recreation?” Woods said.

Crown Mountain has held about 20 meetings with the public at large or special-interest groups to “educate” voters about the proposed recreation center. District officials can present facts, but state law prohibits them from lobbying for approval.

Woods said the top concern he has heard in meetings is the property tax implications. A house with a value of $300,000 currently pays $54.72 to support Crown Mountain Park. The homeowner would pay an additional $179.28 annually to build and operate the indoor recreation center. The total tax for the park would be $234 for the owner of a $300,000 house.

The owner of a home valued at $600,000 would pay $468 annually to support Crown Mountain Park and the indoor recreation center.

Woods said the most popular of the proposed uses are the indoor pool, fitness and cardio space and equipment, and gym space.

For details on the recreation center, go to