Despite pleas, clubhouse closed

Stefka White says Shadow Mountain Clubhouse saved her life.

The Craig resident has to use a wheelchair and suffers a variety of ailments, including diabetes, asthma and arthritis.

Four years ago, a doctor told her she would die if she didn't start exercising, she said.

She began using the swimming pool at Shadow Mountain and can now walk a block without the wheelchair.

"It literally saved my life," White said Tuesday at the Moffat County commissioners' meeting.

Despite such emotional testimony from some residents, commissioners voted 2-1 on Tuesday to close the facility. The county has owned the public recreation center since the 1980s.

"This is one of the hardest decisions I have had to make as a county commissioner," Commissioner Darryl Steele told the overflow crowd at the meeting.

Steele and Commissioner Saed Tayyara voted to close the facility. Commissioner Tom Gray, who has supported keeping the facility open, voted against the clubhouse's closure.

Commissioners have struggled with what to do with the clubhouse, 1055 Moffat County Road 7, after voters rejected a spending measure on November's ballot.

The measure, Referendum 1A, would have allowed the county to spend excess revenue that by law it must refund to taxpayers.

When commissioners campaigned for Referendum 1A, they said closing Shadow Mountain was a possibility if the measure failed.

Commissioners have $9.8 million to spend in 2006 -- $330,000 more than in 2005.

The county spent about $90,000 on Shadow Mountain this year.

Commissioners are looking for ways to make cuts in the 2006 budget to offset rising fuel and utility costs and to make capital expenditures the county has postponed in recent years.

Commissioners considered closing the facility two years ago but were able to raise funds to keep it open for two more years.

Another temporary fix would be a mistake, Steele said.

"I think we are obligated as commissioners to have a level of government we can sustain," Steele said.

If commissioners had found a way to keep the facility open one more year, they would be in the same predicament next year, Steele said.

Tayyara said the decision to close the facility was a difficult one.

"It is not a simple decision, it is not easy," he said.

Tayyara said he received calls from residents such as White, who rely on the facility. But he also received calls from residents who wanted the commissioners to close Shadow Mountain, he said.

Gray said he voted to keep the facility open because the commissioners could find room in the budget to do so, he said.

"I agree we must cut expenditures," Gray said. "But I don't think we have looked at all the options."

Raising fees at the facility and cutting some county employees through attrition could have given the county the $70,000 needed to keep the facility open, Gray said.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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