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Big Mine warming house remodel on track for 2019 construction

$3.5 million for comfortable 9,600-square-foot building

By Mark Reaman

A new Big Mine Park warming house meant to comfortably accommodate both Nordic skiers and hockey players is growing in size and could start construction in 2019.

Committee members updated the Town Council last month and informed them that a newly constructed building would be the best way to proceed, instead of renovating the current structure. A concept for a three-level, 9,600-square-foot building estimated to cost $3.5 million was presented. The current building is about 2,800 square feet.

Crested Butte parks and recreation director Janna Hansen said the committee decided the best use of money was to go with new construction instead of a remodel.

The building would expand to the west and the north and provide more parking spaces in the area. Hockey changing rooms would be located on the bottom level and be on the same grade as the ice rink.

The middle level would be entered from the parking lot and provide a lounge, a rental and retail area for Nordic, restrooms (including a family/gender-neutral restroom) and would be on the same level as the Nordic ski training area.

The third level would have offices, a Nordic ski team room, coaches’ offices and a viewing area for the ice rink. The space would allow for continued and added summer use as well.

“We are happy where we landed,” said Hansen. “This will be comfortable without being overly large.”

“Understand that this is very conceptual,” added town community development director Michael Yerman. “The BOZAR [Board of Zoning and Architectural Review] hasn’t looked at this yet.”

At $300 per square foot plus soft costs and fees, the building is expected to cost about $3.5 million. Hansen said potential funding sources include money from the town’s capital fund, state and private grants, dasher board advertising and $2 million in fundraising from private donors. “That is where the primary user groups, Nordic and hockey, will come in,” said Hansen. “The price tag does not contemplate in-kind work from the town or individuals for things like site prep.”

Mayor Glenn Michel asked if any thought had been given to refrigerate the ice since the area would be torn up in construction.

“Not at this stage,” responded Hansen. “We are focusing on the warming house expansion as the priority.”

That is causing a bit of angst amongst the hockey community. Committee hockey representative Karen Stock said refrigeration is uppermost on the community’s hockey minds. “We are excited at the thought of having improved changing rooms,” she said. “But refrigeration is always talked about. Last year was a challenge when the weather got warm and it was a struggle to keep the ice. We had to move some games. For us, fundraising would be easier with refrigeration but we are excited with the improvements to the locker rooms.”

Hansen said the cost of refrigeration varies but the top end could be as much as $800,000.

Crested Butte Nordic director Christie Hicks said that while the price tag for the project has gone up, “the floor plan is very exciting. It meets the needs of both Nordic and hockey and the way it is set up allows efficiencies. In the summer it can be open to other community uses so it feels like a community center.”

Councilman Jim Schmidt observed that if the current building was not going to be renovated, it could perhaps be used as an affordable housing unit for a four-plex. Yerman assured him the town staff was already considering that use for the building.

The plan is to get the concept in front of BOZAR this fall. Fundraising is scheduled for 2018 and then construction is slated to start in 2019. Hansen said construction would take between 12 and 18 months depending on the final plan.

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