Center discusses expansion options with Town Council

Members provide input on parking, Alpenglow and park space

After a fundraising feasibility study found it would be too difficult to raise donations to build two new arts facilities in Crested Butte, the Arts Alliance decided to revisit a previous idea—renovating the current site. But before such action could move forward, the Crested Butte Town Council was given a chance to weigh in on such plans.




During a regular meeting last month Crested Butte Center of the Arts director Pat Crow and George Hecker of Nebraska- based Bahr Vermeer Haecker Architects outlined three possible schemes for renovating the current Center for the Arts.
 “There are many ways these ingredients can go. It is more about desires than site design,” Hecker told the Town Council referring to the schemes.
The existing Center for the Arts building has approximately 7,000 square feet. The idea is to expand the current site by 26,000 to 28,000 square feet for a total of 34,000 square feet. “If we add these 28,000 square feet, where do you want it to go?” Hecker asked the council.
Council members provided “yes, no” and “maybe” answers to seven questions related to the site and possible expansion.
The first three questions addressed parking. Hecker asked the council if shared parking with the Crested Butte Community School could be considered as part of the proposal and whether or not shared parking on Sixth Street would be an option as well. He also asked if 100 spaces would be adequate for a facility that could potentially seat 400 people.
Town manager Susan Parker reminded the council that Sixth Street was one of the town’s primary economic corridors and parking along the street might not be the best and highest use for the area. She said the town staff was in support of shared parking at the Community School and recommended parking near the Center for the Arts be paid parking to promote the use of the school parking lot.
Although the town staff believed shared parking at the school could work, shared parking along Sixth Street would not be an option, Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie said.
“We have to assume the vacant land on Sixth Street will be developed sometime in the future,” Gillie added. He also said 100 parking spots were needed for a fixed-seat facility. “We don’t need to build the ultimate parking lot, but let’s not be stupid about it,” Gillie added.
The council members agreed to allow shared parking at the school but a consensus was not established about whether or not shared parking on Sixth Street would be an option. Council member Kimberly Metsch said a new development on Sixth Street might be open to shared parking and the town shouldn’t rule it out as a possibility. Parker agreed, but said it shouldn’t be counted on.
The fourth and fifth questions addressed the location of the Center’s outdoor stage, which is used for the popular summertime Alpenglow concert series, and whether or not it could be moved to the north side of the building or if it would have to remain as is. The council agreed they did not want the Alpenglow stage to move or new construction to the north side of the building. Several council members said moving the stage could negatively affect the view of Mt. Crested Butte and aesthetics of the stage. They also said they were not in favor of moving the stage because of the effects that would have on surrounding amenities.
The last two questions concerned whether the council would allow Pitsker Field and Yelenick Park, the playground and pavilion area around the Center, to be moved or altered for expansion.
“The real perimeters are the town’s desires and decisions about the park areas,” Hecker said.
Parker said the town staff was in favor of maintaining green space and would like Pitsker Field to remain as-is. Council member Dan Escalante asked what, if any, amenities would be lost. Parker said it was likely the basketball courts would be removed, and the soccer field would no longer be available, because it had been compromised by the Sixth Street renovations. Parks and recreation director Bob Piccaro noted that a new soccer field at Rainbow Park would be coming online this spring.
Parker added that the town believes firmly that any loss of any field would be considered for replacement somewhere in town. Gillie said that the town is considering tearing down the tennis courts at Sixth and Elk and the space could be converted. The courts will be relocated to the Town Ranch near the existing community gardens.
“Every one of these entities has a user group who doesn’t want them to move, but if we are going to reallocate land these are things we are going to have to consider,” Gillie added.
 Crow said after the meeting, the council’s information was vital for the process to move forward and now Hecker will be able to design a site scheme that addresses the Town’s wishes.
The new one-site proposal should be available by March, Crow says.
“We will then have two different plans to take to the community to get input on—the one-site plan (everything on the current Center site) and the two-site plan (Gothic Field and current Center),” Crow said, noting she would like to hold community meetings in March to gather input.

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