Next at ARC: bikes, skis? | AspenTimes.com
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Next at ARC: bikes, skis?

Janet Urquhart

After adding fitness equipment to the Aspen Recreation Center last winter, rental bikes and cross-country skis may be next as the city ponders ways to attract more users to the facility.

City Councilman Terry Paulson is pushing the latest recreational amenities at the center, which opened a little more than a year ago on Maroon Creek Road, across from the Aspen schools campus.

“I don’t know if we can get anything done this summer, but it certainly would be nice to have something for next winter or summer,” he said.

Council members were told Tuesday, though, that a request for proposals is already in the works. Paulson envisions a local business operating the ski and bike rentals as a concessionaire at the ARC.

The facility is ideally located for anyone wanting to take a bike ride up the road to Maroon Lake or, in the winter, jump on the upper valley’s nordic trail system, which is linked to the ARC.

With four council members present, Paulson and Councilwoman Rachel Richards were supportive of the idea; Mayor Helen Klanderud and Councilman Torre weren’t so sure, but said they’d consider it.

A temporary-use permit to allow bike rentals this summer will require the council’s approval at a later date.

“Are people now going to drive out to the ARC to rent a bike instead of renting a bike in town and riding out there?” Klanderud mused.

“The ARC keeps morphing into more and more things, trying to be more things to more people,” Torre complained, wondering why these developments weren’t all considered during the lengthy process that led to the facility’s approval. “Sitting here, I’m not that gung-ho about it.

“Do I want to do everything I can to make the ARC a success? Absolutely.”

Klanderud, too, said she had reservations about the rental operations, which weren’t part of the community discussions that led to the council’s approval of the ARC.

“I always think twice when we start setting ourselves up in competition with local businesses,” she said.

It will be a local business that offers the rentals, Richards countered.

The city knew it would likely make changes at the ARC after it opened and had some track record of operations, City Manager Steve Barwick reminded the council.

The council also anticipated the ARC would always run at a loss, building a $300,000 annual subsidy into the facility’s budget.

Before it opened, recreation officials projected the ARC would need an average of 550 daily users to meet its revenue projections; average daily use was 459 during its first fiscal year of operation.

With lower-than-anticipated revenues, three full-time employees at the center were laid off earlier this year.

The city is preparing to hire an outside consultant to prepare a business plan for the ARC.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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