A center for all of us

Veronica Whitney
Special to the Daily/Peter Bergh AssociatesThe Berry Creek 5th parcel, seen here last winter, is one of the last remaining pieces of undeveloped land on the floor of the middle Eagle River Valley. The parcel ultimately will include a community center, a 282-unit residential complex, as well as a new campus for Colorado Mountain College.

The county commissioners have given thumbs up to a study on whether a proposed, 130,000-square-feet facility at the Berry Creek 5th recreation is viable.

“We’re finally at a stage that we need to move this project forward,” Commissioner Tom Stone said. “But no one group would be able to finance this project alone. I’d like to see the people in the valley getting involved in the project and see how we can raise the money.”

The Berry Creek 5th project also includes Miller Ranch Housing, a 282-unit residential complex, the largest affordable-housing project in the county, as well as a new campus for Colorado Mountain College and open space.

Three multi-purpose playing fields, the first phase of the recreation site project, are currently under construction. The fields, two natural grass and one artificial turf, will be ready this spring.

$30 million

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The county has commissioned Peter Bergh, a landscape architect of Singletree, to develop a plan for the rest of the 35-acre recreation site. The proposed 130,000-square-foot community center would cost about $30 million, Bergh said.

“There is a tremendous demand in the community for this kind of facility, and I think the time is right,” said Bergh, president of the Berry Creek Metro District, which has extensive experience in town planning, having designed ski areas, parks and playgrounds across the country. “The community has reached a level of development and has become a truly year-round community.”

More than 43,000 people live in Eagle County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, with about 9,000 of those in Edwards and neighboring areas.

“I don’t think this is a sole project for Edwards,” Bergh said. “This will benefit people from Dotsero to East-Vail.”

What are the needs?

Bergh said he already has $12,000, donated by an Eagle County resident, to do a feasibility study on the project. The study will show what the community’s needs are and how the new center would complement existing facilities in Avon and Eagle. A new $5 million recreation center in Eagle will open in the summer with a pool and a covered ice arena. The Avon Recreation Center has a swimming pool, a weight room, an aerobic studio and a room with cardio-vascular equipment.

“We’re not turning people away, but sometimes we have 200 people at the same time,” said Meryl Jacobs, director of recreation with the town of Avon. “The recreation center reaches capacity at peak hours. But in the off-season it’s more quiet. In the summer it gets busier again when the kids are out of school.”

An ice arena would be a great addition, added Jacobs, who has worked in recreation in the valley for the past 16 years.

“Indoor running tracks would also be good because people want to run in the winter where it’s warm,” she added.

A lot of the people he’d talked to, Bergh said, agreed there are not many healthy activities for the youth in the valley. His proposal for the community center also includes an outdoor skateboard park, as well as a teen center that could also be used by seniors.

County Commissioner Michael Gallagher said Bergh’s proposal is good, but he’d like to see some office space at the center dedicated to nonprofit organizations.

“Also, we had interest from the community for a place of worship,” Gallagher said.

Bergh said all of these needs could be accommodated in the space he’s proposing.

“What is exciting now is that it’s a really good time to build,” Bergh said. “There’s a lot of opportunity right now.”

Stone said the feasibility study also will help to find out ways to finance the project.

“Shame on us if we don’t pursue this because there is a need,” Stone said. “There are a lot of kids who can’t afford to pay for a club. This is a way to provide for them.”

Fast facts

A proposed,130,000-square-foot community center would have multiple components in one building, including:

– Indoor arena surfaced for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, tennis or baseball, along with an elevated perimeter track. The arena also could be used for events, such as concerts and exhibitions.

– Ice rink

– Two full-sized basketball courts.

– Teen and senior center

– A high-ceiling lobby with a central check-in.

– Daycare/pre-school for about 75 children.

– Gymnastics facility

– Climbing wall

– Two aerobic studios

– Weight-training room.

– Cardiovascular center

– An aquatics center consisting of a large “water world’ for children, a shallow, warm-water pool for aerobics, a large whirlpool spa, a 25-meter, eight-lane swimming pool and a deep end for scuba practice

– Two sets of locker rooms

– Space for a sports medicine/physical therapy department

– As many as four squash courts

– Multi-purpose meeting rooms

– Housing for employees

– Food services

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at

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