Craig group wants to build new recreation center | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig group wants to build new recreation center

Members of the Northwest Colorado Recreation Foundation answer questions and take donations Jan. 30 for its proposed new recreation center.

A group dedicated to bringing a new recreation center to Craig is looking for donations to buy empty business space and put an accompanying recreational taxing district on the ballot.

According to a Facebook post from the Northwest Colorado Recreation Foundation, because the group is still waiting on its 501(c)3 application, it can't yet guarantee donations will be tax-deductible. The group is seeking to raise an initial $24,000 to help pay attorneys to draw the custom boundaries of the district and get the issue on the ballot.

"We need $24,000 to put this on the ballot," said Elise Sullivan, who also represents District B on the Moffat County School Board, during a public meeting Jan. 30 at City Hall. "That's $15,000 for the attorney and $9,000 to put it on the ballot. Tonight, we are asking for your faith and your trust."

Sullivan's pitch to the public included news that the group is working on purchasing one of Craig's largest empty former big box stores.

"We really would like to purchase the Kmart building," Sullivan said.

Sullivan thinks the group can do it with $5 million in donations from the largest area employers, including Tri-State Generation and Transmission, ColoWyo Mine, and Twentymile Mine. Once the building is purchased and the district is drawn, Sullivan said the foundation would donate the building to the newly-created recreation district, with construction ideally beginning in 2020 for a 2021 completion date.

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The sheer size of the old Kmart building — some 98,000 square feet, Sullivan said — would facilitate all types of services and amenities for the Craig and Moffat County communities including the following:

• Space for an indoor track, gym, and fields for multiple sports.

• Competition-size pool, lifeguard training, a shallow play area, and a lazy river for exercise or recreation.

• Dedicated senior center with workout rooms and meeting spaces.

• Community kitchen.

• A child care center and a teen space in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club.

Many residents asked questions of the foundation Jan. 30. Some were senior citizens concerned that past cuts to city and county services means they might not have a permanent senior center at the new recreation center. Others wanted to make sure a pool was the centerpiece of any new recreation center.

"We feel the pool is the most important part, also," said foundation member Kandee Dilldine.

Until the foundation's nonprofit status is solidified, Dilldine and Sullivan said they plan to work with their attorney and a local construction company to make sure they're utilizing any grant money to help fund construction.

But, she added there isn't much time until the November election, when the foundation hopes to be on the ballot.

"I think this a really unique opportunity in a small window of time," Sullivan said.

Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or at cthorp@craigdailypress.com.