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Committee looks at new college land as home for rec center

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An $11 million recreation center would be located near the future home of Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig, assuming the project wins taxpayer support.

The recreation center's steering committee Tuesday unanimously approved building at the 100-acre CNCC location -- an option costing $208,000 more than refurbishing the old Country General building on West Victory Way.

Building at the CNCC site, on land purchased by the college for future expansion, would carry a price tag of $10,832,900 versus $10,624,000 projected at Country General, according to costs presented Tuesday by Sink Combs Dethlefs, an architectural firm hired by the committee to explore local recreation center options.

Dave Pike, the city's Parks and Recreation Department director, said comparable costs swayed the committee toward having something new.

"You put up a new building and it's going to last longer," Pike said. "If it would have been half the cost, I think we might have gone forward with the Country General site."

Shared costs and infrastructure at the college's future home off Moffat County Road 7 factored into the decision, committee members said.

"Our students must have a physical education credit to transfer into four-year colleges or universities," said Dean Hollenbeck, CNCC vice president. "If you really wanted to dream you could look at a shooting team or a swim team. All these possibilities jump up."

The city of Craig and CNCC would split some $1,400,000 in site and utility development costs on the land, which also is considered a possible home for The Memorial Hospital.

Tuesday's site selection was the next step in a process that could ultimately result in a still-undefined ballot question to build a recreation center of some 50,000-plus square feet.

The steering committee said it wants to pin down exactly what amenities and programs residents want in the building at a public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m., March 12, at The Center of Craig.

A final product to present to voters is hoped to come out of next month's meeting.

"We're still at a conceptual point where everybody should throw their two cents in," Pike said. "We want to get a good majority of what the community wants in this facility, but there's only so much our users can pay and the voters are willing to approve."

Leisure and lap pools, a gymnasium, fitness center, racquetball, meeting rooms, child care and an indoor shooting range are included in current conceptual plans for a two-level, 52,000-square-foot facility.

Several committee members Tuesday suggested tweaking those designs -- accommodating bleachers for spectators at possible swimming or wrestling events. Others pushed for the inclusion of a climbing wall and a walking track -- amenities supported by the community in pervious surveys.

"We don't want to duplicate amenities which already exist," said County Commissioner Darryl Steele, noting meeting rooms proposed on the center's second level.

With total costs pushing $11 million, tax dollars might be stretched too thin to accommodate all wants, Pike said.

Items such as an indoor track -- alone a $300,000 added component -- might have to be phased in.

"We can't afford more than that ($11 million)," he said. "If anything, I foresee us trying to whittle this down a little bit to get it more affordable."

Committee members aim to fund the bulk of the project through a voter-approved sales tax increase or the creation of a use tax, state and foundation grants dollars, and community donations.

Shared costs and facilities at the CNCC site could potentially pull more significant grant monies, Pike said.

"They're going to look at that," he said. "Everybody's trying to get that dollar."

Architects were asked to bring firmer numbers to March's public meeting.

"They're going to want to know how much more this means in taxes," said Pres Askew, a citizen at-large steering committee member.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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