Hayden Center is open, seeing strong membership, while work continues on other amenities
On the outside, the Hayden Center still looks a lot like a school. Looking at the front door, the only change seems to be that the sign welcoming people to Hayden High School has been taken down. But inside, the Hayden Center is up and running, holding fitness classes and already has about 45 active memberships — exceeding the center’s first year membership goals.
Hayden Town Manager Matt Mendisco said when they were coming up with a name for the center, they didn’t want to label it a fitness center or a community center because he feels it will be both of those and much more.
Getting to about 200 active memberships would be a good mark, said Josh Jones, parks and recreation coordinator for Hayden, but Mendisco said they are not limiting themselves to Hayden. He said he wants the center to become a resource for the entire region.
Currently, the weight and cardio rooms in the center are open, and there are eight different fitness classes offered. There is also open gym time for members and recreational volleyball and basketball that happen Tuesday nights.
Many of the fitness classes are taking place in the gym, allowing a lot of space for people to spread out and maintain COVID-19 protocols. The center acquired several practically new spin bikes from Old Town Hot Springs and will get more equipment from them, hopefully, in May, Mendisco said.
“It is so nice to have a huge space, especially at a time like this,” said Jamie Boeri, fitness director at the Hayden Center. “For our high intensity classes, they will be running around and doing different drills and stations, so it is definitely a happening place.”
The gym will be getting a rock climbing wall and will also be repainted. Mendisco said there has been a lot of interest from the community about how it will be repainted, as that will cover up several tigers painted on the walls.
“I think that is because they have attachment to this stuff, so I think we are just going to work to figure out what the actual painting design would be,” Mendisco said.
Jones said staff have been keeping their eye on the local Facebook Marketplace listings to see if someone is selling something they could use. In every case so far, including an air hockey table Tuesday, they have been able to convince people to donate the item.
As Hayden is largely a community of people that commute to work, the busiest times of day are right when it opens at 6 a.m. and later in the day before it closes at 7 p.m. Weekend hours are slightly shorter with it open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
While the center is open, much of it is still a work in progress, with phase two construction efforts starting this summer on many of the performing arts aspects of the center. That is also when renovations on space to be used by Totally Kids for child care services will begin. Mendisco said he hopes they will be able to move in sometime this fall and by the start of 2022 at the latest.
When this work is complete, Totally Kids will offer full service child care ranging from infants up to sixth grade, Mendisco said. In the summer, they will have an all-day program during the week. This could prove crucial for Hayden as there are only two providers locally and only one has been operating during the pandemic, Mendisco said.
“They are going to have a limited capacity, but still, it is something that we are going to have that we didn’t,” Mendisco said. “Obviously, child care is a huge issue in the valley, so this is just going to add to that for Hayden.”
Later this month, the new dance studio, complete with sprung floor, will be finished, and they will start to offer performing arts classes. These will include classes in comedy and theater, creative movement, introduction to dance, as well as both tap and ballet classes.
When the remodel to the auditorium is finished, it will seat about 350 people, but even with current restrictions, they could still seat about 150 people safely distanced. Across the hall, the former library will become a community room and will be able to serve drinks during show intermission.
Scott Parker, executive director of Friends of Yampa Valley Arts, is putting together a summer series of events in the auditorium with the first shows starting in June.
“It is a mix of music, theater, comedy, family shows, adult shows— it is going to be a mix of everything,” Parker said. “It is stuff that played well at the Chief (Theater) that I think would also play well here.”
One of the old science classrooms will be converted into a full professional kitchen with room for seating. Mendisco said they already get a lot of use out of the town’s kitchen now and anticipate it could be used for events at the center or cooking demonstrations in the future.
Across from that, Mendisco said they are putting in a technology room with three-dimensional printers and a small virtual reality simulation among other things.
Mendisco said the room will be one of the most high-end technology rooms that are publicly owned, and it will be connected to the future co-working space on Walnut Street. This is part of the center’s entrepreneurship program they are currently working to set up.
“We hope that this just supplies the fruits for entrepreneurs to do what they need to do — here,” Mendisco said. “The Hayden Center was one of those things where we went from zero to 100 in opportunity like that. We just had to imagine the spaces first.”
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