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Two groups vie for use of gym

John Colson

Local gymnastics boosters and basketball players will face off at Aspen’s City Hall today to figure out whether or not they can co-exist in a local gymnasium.

The two groups are both users of the gymnasium space at the city-owned Red Brick Arts and Recreation Center.

The basketball contingent, a loose group of lunchtime players involved in an ongoing “pickup” game, use the basketball court at one end of the gym for about an hour-and-a-half a day, five days a week.

The gymnasts use the other two-thirds of the gym space through a much more extensive schedule of practices throughout the week, and move balance beams and other equipment onto the basketball court when it is not occupied to give the gymnasts more room to move.

But in April, representatives of the Silver City Gymnastics Booster Parents Club told the City Council there isn’t room enough for both activities at the Red Brick.

The boosters claimed the Silver City gymnasts were crammed into too tight a space in the Red Brick gym, and that their programs were hindered by the need to move heavy gymnastics equipment around to accommodate the basketball players.

And, according to the boosters, there are some 200 kids enrolled in the gymnastics program, whereas they claimed the basketball court is used by only a half-dozen players at a time.

The basketball players, on the other hand, believe their use of the space is a valid one, and don’t want to move unless a playing space can be found that is just as convenient.

“Most of the guys walk or ride their bikes here on their lunch hour,” said Tim Terral, spokesman for the basketball players. He said there are occasionally as many as 20 players using the facility on a given day, although the average has been more like 10 or so per day.

He said somewhere between 50 and 60 local men take part in the pick-up games overall.

Terral also noted that, as a father with a child in the gymnastics program, he understands the gymnasts’ needs.

But as far as having to move equipment onto the basketball court, he added, “I don’t see that that’s a huge inconvenience for them.”

To his way of thinking, he said, “You should get as much use out of a facility as you can,” and that use should benefit the community at large, not just one small segment.

“We do have a pretty religious core of people who play,” Terral noted.

“It’s a fairness issue,” he said, noting that the players are tax-paying citizens who also pay their user fees to use a public facility that is close enough that they don’t have to use a car to get there. If the basketball program is moved to the public schools or the Aspen Club – two venues that have been mentioned as potential substitutes – it would involve more cars on the city streets.

And that, noted city Recreation Director Tim Anderson, would be in direct contradiction to the city’s oft-stated goal of making Aspen more pedestrian friendly.

Another potential substitute venue for the basketball program, mentioned by the gymnastics boosters, is to remodel the gymnasium in the city-owned Yellow Brick School.

“Why won’t they move over there?” asked Terral, referring to the gymnasts.

But Anderson said he checked with the existing day-care and Early Learning Center programs in the Yellow Brick, and the gymnasium is basically in use “all day long,” every week day.

“We need more space,” Anderson declared on Thursday, noting that it’s not just the city recreation programs that are being squeezed, but the local public schools, as well.

City Manager Amy Margerum will be present at a meeting at noon today in City Hall, at which city officials hope to find a compromise that will satisfy both user groups.

Above: Tim Terral drives past an opponent on the basketball court at Aspen’s Red Brick gym during a lunch-hour game Thursday. Dan Bayer photo.


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