Proponent of midvalley indoor sportsplex eager for decision on site
Crown Mountain Park board will decide whether to explore partnership
An entrepreneur who has offered to spend millions of dollars on a 90,000-square-foot indoor “sportsplex” hopes to learn next week if Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel will lease him land.
Sheldon Wolitski outlined his conceptual plan Wednesday night for the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District’s board of directors. The board is scheduled to hold another meeting next week to determine if they want to explore the idea further.
“Do we want it here or do we want it somewhere else? Where does it belong?” asked Rebecca Wagner, executive director of the recreation district.
She noted that the district hired a consultant several years ago to study multiple sites for a possible indoor recreation facility.
“We kept coming back to this as the number one site,” she said.
The recreation district explored but dismissed pursuing construction of an indoor facility last year because the price was too high. Wolitski, a former college hockey player and founder and chairman of a company called The Select Group, recently moved to Missouri Heights. He announced his intention in July to pursue a recreational facility and followed up Wednesday with a conceptual plan.
Wolitski envisions a 36,000-square-foot covered ice rink, 20,000-square-foot indoor turf for activities such as soccer, a 4,000-square-foot track and a 20,000-square-foot fitness center.
What: Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District board of directors meeting
When: Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m.
Why: Discussion on exploring a private party’s interest in funding an indoor recreation facility
How: The meeting must be monitored remotely via https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86548337290?pwd=V3RxTUgyUXlsL252aHlzT1R6STJ5Zz09
Wolitski also wants 10,000 square feet of space that would be leased, including a restaurant that overlooks some of the facilities. Longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident Amanda Boxtell would like to lease space for her Bridging Bionics, a nonprofit organization that promotes health and mobility for people who have lost some or all use of the legs.
There is currently no timeline for construction or completion because the project is in a preliminary phase.
Wolitski said the cost would likely come in higher than $20 million. He intends to keep costs as low as possible with structures by a company called Sprung. The company applies tension fabric over metal frames. Sprung has offered him a lease-to-own opportunity, he said.
The company constructed the outdoor dining that Aspen Skiing Co. is using at its four ski areas in this pandemic-plagued year. It has also provided the structure for an aquatic center in Castle Rock, which his south of Denver, as well as other recreational facilities.
The proposed facilities in El Jebel would likely be under a couple of buildings, with an accompanying lobby.
Wolitski is counting on memberships and fees to generate income to pay off the construction costs.
“I think we’re going to have members using it from all over,” he said.
Wagner concurred: “It’s really a facility for everyone.”
The sportsplex would require about 3½ acres of land at the 124-acre Crown Mountain Park. The proposed site is off Valley Road, across from the Sopris View Apartments. That land is under-utilized and mostly vacant. None of the interior of the park would be used.
If the Crown Mountain board decides to explore the idea further, several details need to be worked out, such as parking, lease amount and how operations are funded, Wagner said.
Nate Grinzinger, park and recreation manager for the district, stressed to the board that Wolitski would take on the financial burden of construction.
“This is no tax dollars being spent in building this facility,” he said.
Wagner said the district would assist his fundraising and pursuit of grants.
Former Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens, who was in the audience for the virtual Crown Mountain board meeting, urged the district to jump at Wolitski’s offer. Crown Mountain Park is emerging as one of the greatest facilities in the valley, he said, and the indoor amenities would enhance its position.
“These things don’t just drop out of the sky,” Stevens said. “They happen about once every 30 years.”
Wolitski said he hopes to get a decision from Crown Mountain’s board as soon as possible for a lease of land. If Crown declines, he would consider land owned by the Crawford family in El Jebel.
“We’ve got some other options,” he said. “(The Crawford property) is a second option for us.”
Crown Mountain scheduled a special meeting next week.
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