Crested Butte Parks and Rec master plan heads into the home stretch

This will be one chapter in an overall plan…

The dozen people that attended the final public hearing over Crested Butte’s developing Parks and Recreation Master Plan feel improvements to the ice rink in town should be a top priority sooner rather than later.



The town council expressed a similar sentiment after hearing preliminary recommendations of the master plan earlier this month.
The consultant driving the master plan, Brian Trusty of Pros Consulting, finished the public meeting held Wednesday, February 10, stating that, “We hear you on the ice rink. I promise.”
Trusty will now take the reams of information gathered over the last several months and compile what is hoped to be a 10-year master plan for parks and recreation in Crested Butte. He hopes to have a plan back in front of town leaders by the middle of March.
The main recommendation that appears to be emerging is for the town to take the lead and work toward a regionalization of park facilities and recreation programs in the Upper East River Valley. That would entail a partnership with the town, C.B. South, the town of Mt. Crested Butte and people living in surrounding subdivisions.
According to Trusty, his surveys indicate the Crested Butte park facilities are used by a vast majority of people living within 15 minutes of Crested Butte. In fact, 96 percent of people living outside of town use the facilities. “That’s off the charts compared to other places,” he said.
The surveys also indicate the majority of people are willing to buy into a regional recreation district and pony up money to pay for such services. How much money and what tool should be used to fund a regional recreation district were not touched upon.
“Enough of a majority surveyed said they’d step up and help pay for regionalization,” Trusty said. “Not 100 percent but enough to be confident that if a vote were taken, there would be support.”
As for specifics, Trusty again said that the number one desire of people living in and around Crested Butte is a swimming pool, followed by an indoor recreation center, an improved ice rink, more and better hiking trails and maintenance of current facilities.
Crested Butte resident Steve Glazer suggested that a high priority of parks and rec in Crested Butte should be maintaining existing trails and greenways in town. He also suggested an alternative to building an expensive swimming pool and indoor rec center. “The town should consider buying a bus to make the Gunnison facilities, which already includes a pool and rec center, more convenient,” he said.
Town councilperson Roland Mason has suggested a similar plan several times in an effort to keeps costs down but provide the desired amenities.
Resident Joni Windsor told Trusty it was past time to cover the Big Mine Ice Rink. “Let’s be done with it,” she said. “We’ve been talking about it too long.”
Hockey mom Kelli McGuire agreed. “It’s been talked about for 23 years,” she said. “It always becomes a big issue but it continually is an obvious priority. It’s crazy.”
Crested Butte Building and Zoning Director Bob Gillie said that during discussions with the local ice advocates, it was decided to loosely allow another three months or so after the master plan is adopted to see if a regional approach to recreation is feasible. That could make an indoor rink economically possible. “If it doesn’t work out, everyone agreed that it would be time to move on and focus on doing something from within,” he said.
Diana Graves said covering the current rink should move ahead as fast as possible. “By the time we get a regional approach okayed and the ability to pay for an indoor ice rink, we would probably need both facilities anyway. So covering the current rink is not just a short-term need, it will work in the long-term. We need it now and we’ll need it in the future.”
Trusty took input about a variety of other suggestions as well. Local event planner Rachael Gardner asked if there would be a space on the Town Ranch to replace the area where big tents could be erected for events such as weddings.
Crested Butte Parks and Recreation Director Jake Jones said there would be a piece of land near Tommy V. baseball field to fill that need. He said it wouldn’t be ready until the summer of 2011.
Gardner suggested that instead of the town charging approximately $100 for the day as in the past, brides would be willing to pay closer to $1,000.
“We pride ourselves on keeping our fees low,” said Jones.
Architect Jennifer Hartman who lives in Crested Butte South agreed covering the rink is key. “But let’s not forget the arts,” she said. “Arts have an overlap with recreation.”
She wanted to make sure that any new master plan would not impede the current Crested Butte Center for the Arts from expanding. Preliminary approval for expanding on the current site onto some recreation space has been given by the town.
“That is safe,” promised Jones.
Hartman also asked that the town look at better utilizing Coal Creek as an amenity as it winds through town. “It could be such a great feature of the town,” she said. “It is definitely underutilized.
Jones agreed but reminded her that much of the creek runs through private property.
Jeff Scott wanted to make sure there could be a conversation on how to best improve existing amenities. “What is the best bang for the buck?” he asked.
“Regardless of where we go with regionalization. There are things, both big and small, that we can look at and chip away at,” Jones said.
Scott gave out heavy kudos to the town and the consultant for a job well done.
Mayor Leah Williams was at the public meeting and she assured the citizens this was just the first stage of a more comprehensive master plan for the town. “We will be doing an overall master plan in 2011,” she promised. “This parks and rec element will be one of the chapters.”

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