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  • Dylan Anderson

Group behind tennis and pickleball center improvements asks for more funding. Council says no.

A frustrated council denied the additional funding request, though they did alter the agreement to allow Court Sports for Life to obtain more funding via loan.

Steamboat Springs City Council expressed frustration with the folks behind an overhaul of the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center on Tuesday, as the group asked for another $460,000 for the project on top of the $500,000 the city has already served up.

Council denied that funding request, though they did agree to alter a contract with the group, Court Sports for Life, to allow more of the funding for the entire project to come from a loan. The change should allow for construction to commence on the new indoor pickleball facility yet this year, as the steel for the new building has already been ordered.

But there were several aspects of the agreement between the city and Court Sports for Life that have already been violated, according to the city. Court Sports for Life Board President Steve “Moz” Modzelewski said he was making a “mea culpa” on Tuesday, as the group asked for contract changes and more funding.

“I am aghast at the project management so far,” Council Member Joella West said. “Management has failed in so many ways to do what the city expected.”

“We have a contract, and basically, it has been negated because you haven’t followed it,” Council President Robin Crossan said.

Phase one of the project started a year ago, which included adding a concrete slab for the new pickleball building, adding 12 new pickleball courts, rebuilding four tennis courts and adding 24 spaces to the parking lot. Phase two of the project is slated to start next month and includes a building around the 12 new pickleball courts, a welcome center and a mezzanine viewing space.

From the city’s perspective, Court Sports for Life has failed to meet obligations in the contract regarding the Climate Action Plan, which required them to incorporate sustainability into the preliminary design, to present costs estimates for these elements to the city and to negotiate whether to include these elements prior to pulling a building permit. The building permit was obtained in March without any of those steps being taken and building materials are set to be delivered in early September.

Now, Court Sports for Life has a plan to incorporate some sustainability elements into the project, though there are still no cost estimates and there has been no negotiation on these elements with the city.

As part of the agreement, Court Sports for Life takes over management of the 18-year-old tennis center on the city-owned parkland, with the city’s $500,000 contribution going toward replacing the membrane of the building. The request for additional funding was for improvements to the tennis center — $50,000 more for the membrane, $264,000 for new insulation in the building and $140,000 for replacing the building’s heating and cooling system.

Court Sports for Life also requested that the amount of the project that could be funded by a loan be increased to 40% of the total cost, allowing the group to take out $1.2 million more in a loan, bringing the total borrowed for construction up to $4.8 million. Council approved this aspect of the request.

About $7.2 million has been raised by Court Sports for Life for the project from 425 different donors (an average of nearly $17,000 per donor), according to the group. The loan for the rest of the cost would come from a “private lender,” Modzelewski said, though he did not disclose who that lender would be.

With the additional loan amount and without additional funding from the city, Modzelewski said they could pay for the additional costs for the membrane and new insulation, but that it wouldn’t be enough to replace the heating and cooling system.

Council agreed they did not want to give any more money to the project, though they did decide to pursue grant funding to replace the heating and cooling system. Other than being inefficient, the heating and cooling system doesn’t need to be replaced at this time.

Council also opted to increase some of the performance standards in the agreement and modify enforcement procedures to allow the city to issue a stop work order or terminate the agreement in the event of unaddressed material breaches or repeated breaches of the agreement. Council also slightly altered the term of the land lease, changing it from a 20-year lease with an option for 20 more to a 20-year lease with options for two 10-year extensions.

The changes to the agreement will be considered for approval by council at its August 22 meeting.

Top Photo Caption: An overhead view of the Steamboat Tennis and Pickleball Center. (Court Sports for Life/Courtesy)


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