Proposed midvalley rec center redesigned

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

EL JEBEL – A proposed midvalley recreation center has been redesigned to make it appealing to a broader base of potential customers and to make better use of the 63,100-square-foot building.

The overall size of the building remained about the same through the redesign, but planners moved the mechanical equipment outside to free up 8,156 square feet inside, according to a news release from recreation center proponents. A senior center was added as well as a gymnastics-zero gravity gym and a group fitness room. A proposed climbing wall was incorporated into the pool area, and a game room was eliminated.

The midvalley facility would be about as big as Glenwood Springs’ 65,000-square-foot community center. The Aspen Recreation Center is 83,000 square feet.

The midvalley facility is proposed at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel.

The Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District board of directors has until the end of August to determine if it will ask voters to approve a $25 million bond issue to construct the facility and, in a separate question, if they will provide funds to operate and maintain the center. The election would be in November.

“They want to take that time to read community sentiments,” said Jeanette Darnauer, a public-relations consultant for the recreation district. She said the district will embark this spring and summer on an “educational outreach” effort to update midvalley residents on the latest plan. The district also will use mailings and a survey to “make sure people are willing to support this,” Darnauer said.

The $25 million bond issue would require a property tax increase of 5 mills to pay it off, according to the recreation district. The operating and maintenance expenses would require a property tax increase of 2.5 mills. Combined, they would add a tax of almost $5 per month for each $100,000 of a home’s market value.

A house worth $500,000 would pay about $25 per month in additional property taxes for the recreation center.

The recreation center’s board decided in August 2010 that it was too risky to place a bond request on the ballot because of the poor shape of the economy. Now they will have to determine if times have improved enough to approach voters.

“Most importantly, we’re looking at the economy,” said Bill Reynolds, president of Crown Mountain’s board of directors. He noted that no tax would go into effect immediately, giving the economy even more time to improve.

If voters approve funding for a recreation center, the construction bond would go into effect in 2014 and the associated mill levy would appear on the tax bill in 2015. The mill levy for operations and maintenance would appear on the tax bill in 2017.

Reynolds said the district’s five-member board comes from diverse business backgrounds, so he thinks they are in pretty good shape to gauge the economy. Right now, they see positive signs of a recovering midvalley.

“There’s a vibrancy that’s happening in the midvalley community,” Reynolds said. “Right now, it looks like we’re going to go for it.”

The proponents of the recreation center will be urging voters with a message of “let’s invest in our community,” he said.

A comprehensive look at the recreation center design and proposed uses is available at