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Grand Lake Center use and remodeling proposals discussed at open house

When the East Grand School District (EGSD) voted to close the Grand Lake Elementary School in 2011 the decision sent powerful ripples moving through the small mountain community the school once served.

In May of this year the Town of Grand Lake purchased the building from the EGSD at a cost of $10. The building has since been renamed the Grand Lake Center and will function as a community center for Grand Lake in the future.

With the new building secured the community began the lengthy process of determining what to do with the facility. Grand Lake established an Ad-hoc committee of local residents and Town officials to explore options. The committee was tasked with developing plans for future uses for the building, setting rental prices and writing a business plan.



Initially an online survey was put out to residents residing in the area to get a general outline of what the local population wanted to see in a community center. Respondents listed numerous ideas and uses for the building with a fitness center and a small business center/incubator receiving the most interest according to Jane Binford, one of the Grand Lake Center Ad-hoc committee members. They submitted their business plan to the Town of Grand Lake in Oct. The Grand Lake Board of Trustees will discuss the plan at their afternoon workshop on Monday Nov. 23, 2015.

Among the many community focused uses proposed for the center were a possible childcare facility, classrooms for adult education and activities such as yoga, a possible commercial kitchen, offices for Sheriff’s deputies that patrol the eastern end of the county, open gym space and a dog park. No final decisions have been made yet regarding uses for the center. Any decisions on future uses will impact remodeling plans for the building.



On Monday night, Nov. 16, Grand Lake held an open house ceremony at the Grand Lake Center where possible floor plans and exterior layouts were presented to community members to spark further discussion about priorities for the building.

Architect Jeff Wood and graduate students from the University of Colorado Denver developed and presented the plans. Wood is the University Technical Assistance Field Supervisor with the University of Colorado Denver. Wood is also a part-time Grand Lake resident.

floor plans

Wood and four graduate students presented four different floor plans Monday night, each with a unique layout offering different options in terms of where conference space, the fitness center and other proposed aspects of the Grand Lake Center might be located within the building. Some of the plans called for using the existing gymnasium within the building as the primary conference center space while one plan called for the interior of the former school to be remodeled to create space while maintaining the gym for community recreational use.

Two additional site plans were discussed which focused on possible changes to the exterior of the building. Being a former elementary school the Grand Lake Center has an existing playground and sits on nearly five acres of land that includes both a baseball field and a helipad, used for flight for life medical evacuations from the town.

The entire project is still in the early planning stages and no construction/remodeling decisions have been mad but Wood offered very rough estimates of building costs. By multiplying the possible square footage to be remodeled by the average price per square foot to remodel a building Wood estimated the cost to remodel the Grand Lake Center somewhere between $1 million and $2 million, depending on the choices made by Grand Lake regarding priorities within the facility. Wood pointed out that current discussions have highlighted hopes to find grant funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) for half the cost of the remolding project.

Four-Season Economy

One of the major visions for the Grand Lake Center is to use the facility as a conference center, specifically in the shoulder seasons of spring and fall to help Grand Lake achieve one of their main community goals, the establishment of a four-season economy.

To that end Grand County Economic Developer DiAnn Butler worked with Bill Capodagli to bring his program, “The Disney Way” to the Grand Lake Center as the first conference to be held in the building.

The Disney Way is a business-training seminar inspired by the corporate culture and leadership aspects of the Disney Corporation. The first Disney Way conference held at the Grand Lake Center was held this fall. Jeff Wood and his graduate students did the work to transform the gym into a conference space complete with new carpet tiles, banners highlighting the local communities and curtain structures spanning the ceiling to aid with acoustics in the room.

The conference brought nearly 100 attendees to Grand Lake for a three-day period in Sept., expanding commerce in the community at a time of year when business in Grand Lake can be notoriously slow. The Disney Way will return this coming spring and fall for two additional conferences at the Grand Lake Center during the shoulder seasons.


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