Saturday, June 6, 2020

Council looks favorably on Nordic expansion concept

A bigger barn solves a lot of problems

By Mark Reaman

Instead of a major multi-million expansion of the Warming House in Big Mine Park, Crested Butte Nordic is moving toward a more modest but still significant expansion of its cat barn in the park that will provide offices, changing rooms, programming and storage space. The Crested Butte Town Council heard the proposal and was on board with the idea.

The town owns the current building and leases it to Crested Butte Nordic. It’s used to store the snow cats that groom the local Nordic trails. Since town owns the building, the council must authorize the expansion before the proposal goes to the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR). The expansion move would double the footprint of the current cat barn but the building would be two stories instead of one.

“There is not enough room in the current tiny Warming House for everything happening there,” Crested Butte Nordic executive director Christie Hicks told the council. “Your move to allow hockey changing rooms in the ice rink will help but activity is growing so much that it is still a crowded place.”

Hicks said the cost of the project would be somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million. Ideally, fundraising would start this winter and would be successful so that a foundation could be poured next fall and construction of the structure would begin the spring of 2021. “We hope to raise all the funds through donations and grants but would ask the town for some financial assistance. But it is not dependent on town money,” Hicks explained. She expected minimal impacts to the nearby residents, as the expansion would go on the west end of the current structure along the alley.

Crested Butte Parks and Recreation director Janna Hansen said the proposal was a good one. “Sometimes we all get caught up in big grandiose plans like the major expansion of the Warming House and ice rink. But this makes a lot more sense for us. It is simple and clean. It’s a great solution. Sometimes simple is best.”

The council agreed and voted to give its approval to the idea, so it will now go through the BOZAR review process.

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