Proposal solidifies for privately funded midvalley recreation center |

Proposal solidifies for privately funded midvalley recreation center

Entrepreneur locates site where he wants to pursue 60,000-square-foot facility

Sheldon Wolitski has a conceptual agreement to purchase 5.5 acres in El Jebel for a proposed recreation center. The site is north of JW Drive and east of Blue Lake subdivision. It is roughly in the middle of this picture.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times

A midvalley man should learn this week if his updated plan to build a privately funded recreation center in the El Jebel area can advance from the drawing board to the government review process.

Sheldon Wolitski said he has a conceptual agreement to purchase 5.5 acres of land for the recreation center from Crawford Properties, owners of the El Jebel Plaza and mobile home park as well as surrounding commercial property and vacant land. The proposed purchase of a site in the heart of El Jebel is contingent on getting approval for the recreation center and associated buildings from Eagle County.

Wolitski said he has a preliminary meeting scheduled with Eagle County officials this week to gauge what will be required in the review process. If he’s optimistic about the prospects, he will proceed with a formal application, he said. A proposal would be required to go through Eagle County’s review process, with public hearings.

The site is vacant land north of JW Drive and east of Blue Lake subdivision. It is also adjacent to land reserved for an elementary school.

“It really checks off every box,” Wolitski said of the site.

His checklist includes a flat property with infrastructure readily available, a nearby bus stop and access for the Latino population. Wolitski said he isn’t sure when the Roaring Fork School District intends to build the elementary school, but he wants to propose the idea of sharing parking with the facility for at least part of the necessary spaces. School use would be highest during the day. The recreation center use would be highest after school and into evenings.

His vision is to build a 60,000-square-foot facility that includes an indoor hockey and ice rink with an additional outdoor rink in winters; a multi-purpose fieldhouse that would include a track for running and walking; and in a later phase businesses oriented on health, wellness and longevity. The fieldhouse would have a state-of-the-art gym as well as surfaces for indoor soccer, lacrosse and other activities. The structure would have multiple garage doors that could be opened in the right conditions. He’s exploring the idea of a world-class climbing wall.

“How do we make it a one-stop shop?” he said.

The idea of a midvalley recreation center has been kicked around for several years. Wolitski’s vision is unique because he would develop it without taxpayer assistance.

“It would be 100 percent fee based,” he said. “My number one goal is to make it affordable.”

Wolitski is a successful business entrepreneur who recently relocated to the Roaring Fork Valley with his family. He has a passion for hockey after growing up playing it in Canada and in college in the U.S. He is shifting his focus from his business to philanthropy.

Sheldon Wolitski stands on the ice at the 5 p.m. hockey practice at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel on Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Through his endeavor called Colorado Extreme he installed a cooling system for an outdoor ice and hockey rink at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel this year. Free programs to get kids on skates and introduce them to hockey attracted more than 400 participants this winter. The program will wrap up for the season with ice time and a potluck dinner on March 11.

Wolitski hopes to transfer the outdoor rink to the JW Drive site next winter. He aims to apply the same can-do spirit to the broader vision of a recreation center.

Wolitski initially explored placing the facility on land leased from Crown Mountain Park, but decided for various reasons it would be best for his organization to own the land where the rec center would be located.

He most recently explored a site across Catherine Road from the Carbondale Rodeo grounds, but ultimately ruled that out because of a lack of infrastructure.

Now he’s excited about the prospect of working with Crawford Properties on the El Jebel site.

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