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Government, recreation agencies discuss community center concept

Staff reporter

A group of interested government, tourism and recreation officials gathered last Monday to discuss the concept of Carbon County and Price city constructing a community center.

The meeting was conducted to gather input on the idea of building the recreation facility. The discussion also included a presentation from Brent Tippets of UCBO Architects.

The Salt Lake based company has planned and designed recreation centers for many communities in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and Colorado.

"I'm just here to give you some ideas," stated Tippets. "Recreation centers have a very different meaning than they did years ago."

Most people think a recreation center is primarily a gymnasium frequented mostly by youth. But nowadays, things are different indicated Tippets.

"The new ideas of recreation centers are very dynamic," explained the architect. "There is a lot of synergy. They are for all segments of the community and can include many different aspects The goal of most of the modern centers is to improve lifestyles."

Tippets presented a slide show that included information from several recreation centers located within a five-state area.

Some of the facilities were small and conservative, while others were large and costly.

But all of the community recreation centers had standard features and several special ones adapted to the needs of individual communities.

Some of the features incorporated into the facilities included venues like:

•Ice sheets for skating and hockey.

•Gymnasiums of different sizes that could also used, depending on the flooring, for numerous activities other than basketball and volleyball.

•Indoor running tracks.

•Racquetball courts.

•Aerobic and dance areas.

•Spinning rooms for group stationary bike riding.

•Climbing walls.

•Indoor skate/skateboard parks.

•Physical fitness rooms.

•Game rooms.

But the idea of a center focusing on physical activities is not the direction that local officials want to explore.

For several years, Price city, Carbon County and College of Eastern Utah have been working on a concept of building a super library. The facility would replace as well as combine the city and college libraries.

"It isn't any stretch of the imagination to have a glass wall with someone studying on one side of it and someone jogging on a track on the other side," stated Tippets.

"Libraries have changed," indicated the representative from the architectural firm. "They aren't places where everyone is quiet all the time and you can't bring in food or drinks. The Salt Lake Library has a coffee shop, a comic book store and many other features. There are places where music plays and people can talk. It is a whole different concept than it used to be."

Tippets showed the local officials charts displaying the operational costs of recreation centers. Of local interest were the features generating revenues.

"Operational costs are important," stated Tippets. "Over the life of the building, those costs far outweigh the cost of construction of the facility."

One idea local officials expressed interest was the idea of leisure pools. The pools include water features like fountains or play areas with sprayers. The leisure pools sometimes include indoor beaches as well.

Another feature that seems to draw people of all ages to recreation centers are current channels, where people can float in inner tubes and swim or walk against the moving water.

"Current channels are some of the most favorite areas in these pools," Tippets said. "Kids love it because they can float down it and seniors like it because they can walk against the current as a cardiovascular exercise."

Facility location was discussed by people attending the local meeting.

According to county recreation director Steve Christensen, the present area where the Price city pool complex is built could be expanded for the community center.

"It could be we could expand into one of the streets there and the community would lose a street," noted Christensen. "We know that the boilers at the pool complex are big enough to handle an expanded facility so that would be helpful."

The Price location would not only allow expansion of a complex with the parking and tennis courts as well as one of the streets and the park, but would be close to the college campus in the event a super library were constructed and opened.

"The one thing I want people to remember is that just because we are talking about this concept doesn't mean it's a done deal," advised Christensen. "We are just exploring the possibilities and the ideas. When people ask me what this would look like, I don't even have an idea. If it is to happen it will require a lot of public meetings and input for it to be successful."

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