Subdivision could still be home to rink
Developer and private school owner Gary Garland says his plans to build a private ice rink in the East River Valley are off the table, at least for this year. Garland hopes to install a rink in 2009 but he’s discouraged by the reception his plan is receiving.
Most recently, Garland had approached the Crested Butte South Property Owners Association board about leasing land in Red Mountain Park to house a 40,000-square-foot rink. However, he says, some board members questioned the plan, wanting more design features on the proposed structure and additional compensation for the leased land. He withdrew his application from Crested Butte South on Wednesday, May 14.
“To make a long story short, I got tired of begging someone to take a $2.5 million building,” Garland says.
Crested Butte South Property Owners Association (POA) board president Al Smith says the board is still interested in pursuing the project. “We’re hopeful that it’s still a possibility,” he says, but says the delay is probably appropriate. “In some ways, this might be helpful. We don’t have a time crunch.”
Before pursuing the project in Crested Butte South, Garland had approached the Larkspur subdivision, which he developed, about housing an ice rink on land platted for a recreation center. Garland says homeowners in Larkspur expressed concerns about the idea and he now has no plans to build a facility in Larkspur.
However, he will continue with a land use change application before the Gunnison County Planning Commission to house an ice rink in the Larkspur subdivision, in case someone else wants to build one there in the future. “I don’t want to build an ice rink there at any time,” he says. “But someone might.” Garland says in the future he might build a gravity center—an indoor skateboarding facility—in the Larkspur subdivision.
In conversations prior to those with the Larkspur subdivision, Garland had been working with the East River Skating Association and the town of Crested Butte to donate $1 million to a public facility in Crested Butte. He’s now opposed to putting in his private facility or contributing to a public rink in town because he says town officials don’t want a year-round hockey facility.
Despite withdrawing his plan, the developer hopes the rink will find a home in Crested Butte South and plans on resuming talks with the POA board. “I’m still trying to work something out with them,” he says. “I don’t want to come down hard on the POA.”
Crested Butte South POA board members had expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the building and the financial stability of the rink’s proponent, Mountain Sports LLC, which owns and operates the private Crested Butte Academy.
“What everyone was concerned about is, can this be done in an environmentally sensitive way?” says Smith. However, Smith says it’s not a deal breaker and the rink’s benefits might outweigh its energy use.
Garland says he doesn’t have additional funding to improve the rink’s design, which by its nature is large. “It would be great if I had $6 million but I can’t make it work,” he says. He charges that an ice rink could look better, but with a larger price tag, it will never be built. “On plans, it will look great,” he says.
Smith says the POA board is willing to continue working with Garland on the project. “We’re not exactly sure where things stand, but I don’t think it’s entirely off the table,” he says.
Smith says if Garland wants to move forward, the POA board may discuss the issue during its board meeting on Wednesday, June 18. In any case, he says the process will be open to the public and won’t be hurried or conducted in a single meeting. “It wouldn’t be possible to do that,” Smith says.
For his part, Garland says another stumbling block for the project is that Gunnison County was planning on charging its affordable housing linkage fee on the building, which would have added another $80,000 to the overall price. He hopes the fee will be waived. “With some time, we might get a waiver on that,” he said.
With the rink on hold, Garland says the Crested Butte Academy’s plans to expand its programming to include hockey have also been delayed. “It’s not happening this year,” he says.
Garland says the true losers in this situation are the town—which is losing a potential economic driver—and families whose children play hockey, since the teams will have to travel to participate in the sport. “You shouldn’t have to fight battles like this,” he says.