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Gymnastics center may break ground in June

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily/Shane Macomber Riley Dudley 2, kicks out a hand spring with a big smile with the assistance of his grandmother lana Dudley, Thursday at the Vail Rec. District's Facility in Avon.
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Robin Deighan wants to kill some time in Vail again.

Deighan, a Vail resident with two girls in the Vail Recreation District’s gymnastics programs, now takes her kids to a facility on Nottingham Road on the far west end of Avon. But she may be dropping off her girls at a new center in Vail later this year.



The Vail Planning and Environmental Commission gave its approval to a plan for the center in late February and the town last week issued an invitation to contractors to bid on the 8,200-square-foot project that will be built adjacent to the gym at Red Sandstone Elementary School.

If the numbers twirl and gyrate the way they’re supposed to, work could start in June. But the numbers could be tight.



Contractors are being asked to bid on a project with a $1.1 million cap on “hard costs” for the project – that is, the actual cost of getting the gymnasium built. “We hope the costs come in under that,” said Susie Hevert of the Vail Community Development Department. That department is handling the project for the town, which is the lead agency in getting the center built.

Deighan, whose oldest daughter, Kendall, 9, has been involved in district gymnastics programs since she was three, is optimistic about the prospects for a new center in Vail. “It would be used by a lot of different people,” Deighan said. “And a lot of parents just drop off their kids and then go run errands. They could sure do that in Vail instead of Avon.”

The potential clients of a new center would include more than 200 adults and kids currently using the center in Avon, as well as most of the 150 to 175 people on the existing center’s waiting list.



“We’ve essentially outgrown this facility,” said David Ward, who runs the center for the recreation district.

Participation in programs increased rapidly when the center moved from Vail to Avon a couple of years ago. “We went from 17 to 70 classes,” Ward said.

Ward said the growth in programs is due, partly, to moving the center to Avon. But the biggest factor in the growth of the programs, he said, is the size of the center in Avon. The facility in Vail, which was next to the Amoco station west of Lionshead, had less than 2,000 square feet of space for classes; the one in Avon has more than 4,000.

The move from Vail came after the town forged an agreement to close the old center to make room for an Eagle River Water and Sanitation District facility on the old gymnastic center’s site in West Vail.

As part of the agreement, the water district offered $400,000 in cash to build a new center. That money has been matched by both cash and pledges of “in-kind” services from the recreation district, the town, Vail Resorts and the Eagle County School District. Cash on hand for the project totals a bit more than $1 million.

“That’s just an unprecedented collaboration,” Deighan said.

The cooperation between public and private groups has been “an interesting, exciting experience,” said Lynn Fritzlen, project architect.

Fritzlen, who is acting as a kind of “owner’s representative” for the town, said both the town and the school district see cooperation on the center as a good way to make the best use of both land and money, especially since the center will also be used as an auxiliary gym for the school.

Concerns remain, though. In its approval of the project, the planning board included a condition that the applicant – in this case, the town – must gain approval from the Colorado Department of Transportation for occasional, temporary parking on the North Frontage Road in front of the center. In addition, school district officials have demanded that parking for the center not interfere with school-time operations at Red Sandstone.

Parking and congestion shouldn’t be a problem, Ward said. The Avon center has only limited parking, so current programs are scheduled so they cause as little disruption as possible, he said.

Most programs will take place when school’s out, but the kind of scheduling that keeps problems in Avon to a minimum will continue in Vail, Ward said.

While the current schedule calls for construction to start in early June, there isn’t a lot of room for hiccups in the plan.

“We have to start the day school’s over,” said Greg Moffet, a Vail town councilman and center supporter. “If we can’t, we may have to wait a year.”


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