MONTE VISTA—The Friends of Ski-Hi Park, a collaborative group of organizations, use groups, event committees and other parties with an invested interest in the Ski-Hi complex, presented the results of their work thus far in a potential design for a new multi-purpose building and other changes to the Ski-Hi complex. The design was presented at a meeting last Wednesday, Sept. 4 which included Friends of Ski-Hi Co-Chairs Karla Shriver and Kathy Rogers-Woods, attendees from Spencer Architecture Studio who completed the design, and representatives of Alcon Construction, contractors for the project.
The current plan includes demolishing the multi-purpose building and pool area, except the bleachers and the roof over the bleachers which are in sound condition and replace the building with a new 30,000 square foot one with a multi-purpose area and a conference center on the east side. The McMullen building, arena and other spaces won’t be altered. The new building will be in the same space although about 10-20 feet more narrow from north to south and slightly longer, about 30-40 feet, from east to west than the current footprint, with the west side of the building as the main entrance for the recreation/multi-purpose area. The picnic area will be moved to the west side; there will be a new ticket booth/office building west of the main building along with a food truck circle. The new building will include two sets of restrooms with both indoor and outdoor access as well as two shower stalls in each restroom. Don Spencer stated his architecture firm and Alcon Construction are doing a lot of research to ensure they get the most durable and functional materials for the restrooms and are working with Rio Grande County to ensure they meet all ADA Compliance standards, safety codes and emergency coordination needs.
The multi-purpose/recreation area is being designed to consider several different events and potential removable courts/flooring for those events, including volleyball, basketball, pickleball, roller derby, badminton, and wrestling, among others. Monte Vista Recreation Director Jaime Hurtado inquired about sound design, as acoustics have been an issue for recreation events and concerts in the current building. Spencer replied they will hire an acoustic engineer to ensure absorptive materials and sound panels can be utilized to improve the sound quality in the space for an economic cost. Alcon Construction’s Brian Cook pointed out the wide open space without columns is ideal for fitting about 105 vendor spaces, and they are looking at the details of mechanical, electrical heating and cooling needs now to select the most “abuse-resistant, long lasting” and efficient materials for cost estimates. Spencer Architecture and Alcon Construction are also looking at retractable electrical outlets that come down from the ceiling instead of floor level outlets.
The conference center will include one main conference room which can fit between 248-310 people and three smaller conference rooms that can fit 155-223 people, a food warming area, as well as hallways and entries that can be locked or opened to meet specific conferences’ needs. Rogers-Woods explained they considered the costs of a full commercial kitchen space but the current and anticipated uses of the facility would make a warming area for caterers more practical.
When asked by attendee Kyler Brown how long the building will be expected to last, Cook answered they have used similar metal-exterior structures before and expect approximately 100 years out of the building. The buildings are also fairly easy to maintain and they’ve previously repurposed or refurbished similar buildings before, citing the examples of the Sanford gymnasium and Gunnison Airport. “It’s an industrial quality of beauty,” Spencer added, “...it will look good and be very durable…It deserves to be attractive, solve problems and be something we and the community can be proud of.” “We are working very hard to make this a functionable (sic) and nice, but cost-effective project,” said Rogers-Woods in a press release about the design reveal.
Shriver confirmed they do not have committed sources of funding for the project yet as most grants and other sources require the cost estimates, which will be forthcoming after Alcon Construction and Spencer Architecture complete their research on materials, HVAC needs and other details as well as the completion of a survey for drainage, retention ponds and other needs. In a press release the Friends of Ski-Hi Park stated “The goal is to have the projected completed by 2021 for the 100th anniversary of Ski-Hi Stampede. However, it may take a little longer depending on the planning and fundraising.
The group has not yet received cost estimates, but once we do the group will decide if we need to look at phasing the project in some way or if we can move forward with both the multi-use portion along with the conference center. ‘We will then begin our fundraising efforts,’ said both Shriver and Rogers-Woods, ‘and it will take the whole San Luis Valley to make this work. This is for our kids, grandkids and great grandkids just like our forefathers envisioned the current facility for us to use.’ The design and concept phases are being funded by a DOLA grant obtained by the City [of Monte Vista] and a grant the Friends of Ski-Hi obtained from a local foundation.
In the overall masterplan that was completed for the Ski-Hi Complex in 2006 there was a phase in the vision for a swimming pool. ‘We all want a swimming pool back in Monte Vista,’ said Shriver, ‘However we have to design and build this in phases as we cannot afford it all at once nor is the City set up to maintain it all right now. We are not sure we can afford to do both the new multi-purpose/recreational portion along with the conference center at this time either. What we do know is what the user group tells us we need to support current events now held at the facility. There have been some events lost (sic) due to lack of infrastructure now at the current building.’ The difficult part is that when you have a complex of this size, costs go up because of building codes, which are needed, which call for a certain number of bathrooms, fire suppression etc. ‘We have to be real on what the Valley community can afford,’ said Rogers-Woods.”
Neuerburg discussed the importance of the proposed one cent sales tax that will go before voters in Monte Vista this November, pointing out 40 percent of those funds, an anticipated $160,000 annually, will go to permanent, long-term maintenance of Ski-Hi and ensuring the city’s recreation needs are prioritized in the design and construction of the project. Neuerburg added this will keep the new building a source of community activities even in the slow months of winter.