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Fraser Rec District rejects wood pellet heat for rec center as too costly

Will Bublitz
Sky-Hi Daily News
Grand County, Colorado

The idea of installing a wood pellet-fired heating system into the new Fraser recreation center was nixed by the board of directors of the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District (FVMRD) at its Tuesday meeting.

The directors decided to drop the idea after Austin Watson of ARC, the architectural firm handling construction of the rec center, reported the installation of a wood-pellet system would cost an estimated $150,000 more than what had been budgeted for the installation of a heating system.

Commenting on Watson’s report, Scott Ledin, FVMRD director, said that going over the budget by $150,000 made a wood-pellet system “cost prohibitive at this time.”



Ledin also told the directors that a decision had to be reached at Tuesday’s meeting because the project had reached a “drop-dead point” because the “walls of the rec center were already going up” and the building’s design had to be finalized.

Several of the directors expressed regret that wood-pellet system had proven to be more expensive then expected. President Dan O’Connell said the board had hoped it would be a financially viable enough so that “all the dead trees out there” could be used as a fuel source.



Instead of a wood-pellet boiler, the district will now go with its original plan to use a natural gas-fueled boiler. Some board members expressed the hope that at some future date when costs for a wood-pellet system decline it might be possible to “retrofit” it into the rec center building.

Construction progress

To update the directors on the progress of the rec center’s construction, Watson said plans over the next three weeks are to finish putting up the building’s gymnasium masonry walls as well as installing its underground plumbing and roughing-in the building’s electrical system.

Over the next two months, the construction plans for the rec center include the erection of the natatorium (indoor swimming pool) masonry walls, installation of the gym bar joists, pouring the concrete slab for the gym floor and roofing the gym.

ARC’s Ryan Smelker also reported that the demolition of the old clubhouse at Pole Creek Golf Course has been completed and progress is being made on the construction of the new clubhouse.

Over the next three weeks, Smelker said the construction plans include backfilling around the exterior wall of the new clubhouse basement, installing a steel deck, pouring the concrete slab for that deck, pouring retaining walls and installing gas lines.

Before the end of the year, Smelker said plans are to pour the concrete patio on the exterior of the new clubhouse. The construction crew also plans to frame the building’s main level and roof. In addition, work on its plumbing system will begin.

Question on clause

During the open forum at Tuesday’s meeting, resident Melanie Zwick questioned a clause in the contract between the district and Grand Park.

Zwick said the clause appeared to require the district to build the rec center in such a way to provide access to a hotel that may be built adjacent to it.

“To me, it says the design of the building has to fit the hotel,” she said.

While agreeing that the clause does require the rec center to provide access to a hotel, the board members denied the rec center building was designed with a specific access point for a hotel or that the district would pay to build one at a future date.

Clark Lipscomb, the owner of Grand Park, was present and he confirmed the board’s interpretation of the clause.

“Any connection of the rec center to the hotel will be borne by the builder of the hotel,” he said.

The board members also defended their acceptance of the hotel access clause in the contract, explaining the hotel guests would provide additional income for the rec center.

Director Beth Sands said “if and when” a hotel is actually built, the hotel guests would be paying to use the rec center and that would give the district a “great income stream that we don’t even have to budget for.”

O’Connell agreed, saying he saw it as a “benefit” because the added revenue from hotel guests will “drive down costs to taxpayers in the valley.”

Redepositing bond money

During his financial report to the other board members, Director John Kacik said the district was recently informed that the bank handling the money from the district’s bond sale proceeds will no longer insure those accounts after Dec. 31.

To make sure that all of the district’s money is secure, Kacik said the district has since then redeposited the bond proceeds into FDIC-insured and CDAR accounts, which he said would provide “double protection for our money.”

Kacik also mentioned the redepositing on the bond money is having an additional benefit. He said the district can expect to “realize an extra $50,000 in income” from interest on those new accounts.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, Colorado Lottery community relations specialist Matt Robbins presented the board with the lottery’s Starburst Award for the district’s renovation of the Alex Newberry baseball field at the Fraser Valley Outdoor Sports Complex.


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