Plan takes shape for midvalley recreation center in El Jebel

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesCrown Mountain Park in El Jebel, busy with walkers on Sunday, could be home to a recreation center as well as its various outdoor recreation components.

EL JEBEL – Proponents of a midvalley recreation center intend to place a question on the November 2011 ballot to seek funding for a facility that would eventually grow to 85,0000 square feet.

The proposed recreation center would be built in Crown Mountain Park along Valley Road, near the Eagle County government building in El Jebel, according to Mark Fuller, a consultant to the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District. Proponents have been working on a plan for years and now feel the proposal is a “fully baked idea,” Fuller said.

In November 2009, midvalley voters approved funding for a study of the indoor recreation center concept. Proponents decided not to place a question on the November 2010 ballot seeking a property tax increase. The plan needed more work and the poor state of the economy raised questions on whether voters would approve a tax hike. Fuller said the organizers will hold meeting later this spring to help them gauge the mood of taxpayers.

“Every poll or survey that we’ve done up to this point shows pretty strong support for an indoor [recreation facility],” Fuller said.

That said, it is difficult to know how voters will react when they are asked to pay for something, he said. The recreation center is estimated to cost $25 million at build-out.

The first phase of the project would be about 61,000 square feet. It would include a swimming pool with dedicated lap lanes, a gym, an area for weight lifting and aerobic machines, a walking track, climbing wall, an activity and game room for teenagers, meeting space and a day-care area for kids while parents are using the facility.

Later phases of the plan include construction of tennis courts and a sheet of ice.

Fuller said Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District’s board of directors and participants in the “Friends of the Rec Center” citizens group looked at 24 potential sites in the midvalley and settled on one in Crown Mountain Park. The preferred site is on the edge of the park, west of the Eagle County government building, between Valley Road and an internal road at the park. The site avoids the heart of the 124-acre Crown Mountain Park, where ball fields and soccer fields have already been developed.

An application for the indoor facility has been submitted to Eagle County. The review by the Roaring Fork Regional Planning and Zoning Commission is tentatively scheduled to begin May 19. The application will also be reviewed by the Eagle County commissioners after the Planning Commission makes a recommendation. The recreation district will hold a public open house prior to the planning commission meeting so people have a chance to learn more about the plan. A date hasn’t been set yet for that meeting.

Once the proposal goes to the ballot, everyone within the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District will be eligible to vote. The district’s boundaries stretch from Old Snowmass to the Eagle-Garfield County line. It includes Basalt, the various subdivisions in the El Jebel area, parts of Missouri Heights and parts of the Fryingpan Valley.