Work on Vail rec center starts next week |

Work on Vail rec center starts next week

Scott N. Miller

After solving a $500,000 funding shortfall, work may start as soon as this week on a new gymnastics and recreation facility in Vail.The shortfall, caused by a construction estimate that came in $500,000 higher than expected, was solved through a loan from the town to the Vail Recreation District. The $400,000 loan, which is essentially being made at no interest, will be repaid over the next 10 years. The town will also commit another $100,000 from its capital fund as a substitute for a previous commitment for “in-kind” services. The loan, and approval of a construction contract with Viele Construction, cleared the way for work to start – and soon – at a site adjacent to Red Sandstone Elementary School.”A lot of us are pretty excited about this,” Vail Town Councilman Greg Moffet said.It’s not just officials who are excited, though. At the Thursday “Toddler Bears” class at the current gymnastics center in West Avon, a group of moms said they’re looking forward to a new facility.”I don’t live in Vail, but a new facility will be nice,” Camille Fowler said.

Doris Elliott and her family do live in Vail, and she’s eager to see the new center. “Anything new in town for kids would be great,” she said.Instructor Heather Gilger remembers the old facility in west Vail, a smallish building where the old town shop used to be. “This place is great,” she said of the Avon facility. “But the new one will have a foam pit and some other things that make it easier to teach, and a little safer.”If the new facility is to open by late this year or early in 2005, work has to start soon. Most of the outdoor construction has to be completed by mid-August, when the 2004-05 school year starts, so the project won’t interfere with classes at the school. The project is slated for completion in December of this year.The center has been several years in the making, starting when the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District approached the town with a proposal to purchase the old town shop just west of Lionshead.In negotiating for the site, the water district agreed to provide nearly $400,000 for construction of a new center. Vail Resorts also pledged money to the project.

The biggest part of building a coalition to construct a new center was when the Eagle County School District pledged its support, and offered to let the town link the rec center to Red Sandstone Elementary School.”Once the school district and Vail Resorts got on board, we really had a deal,” said former Vail Town Councilman Chuck Ogilby, a proponent of the rec center. The new center will be a definite upgrade from the old West Vail site, which was less than 2,000 square feet, and will significantly add to the roughly 4,000 square feet now available at the gymnastic center’s interim site in Avon.The new center will total about 8,200 square feet, with more than 5,000 available for programs.Earlier this year, gymnastics center director David Ward said the new facility may allow him to whittle down the current waiting list for programs. That list currently has more than 150 names, in addition to the 200 or so participants in current programs.”This is going to be a great community asset,” Moffet said. “And unlike a lot of municipal expenses, this one basically pays for itself. When you consider we’re paying $250,000 for a $1.5 million facility, it’s a home run.”Who’s helping:

A wide partnership has contributed land, money, and in-kind services to the Red Sandstone rec center. Contributors, and the amount of their cash and in-kind contributions, are:• The town of Vail ($250,000)• Eagle County School District ($215,000)• Vail Recreation District ($400,000 loan from the town)• Vail Resorts ($250,000)• Eagle River Water and Sanitation District ($380,000)Cost of the facility is estimated at just less than $1.5 million.

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