Recreation center demolition, remodeling is under way

RANGELY — A year from now, when the Western Rio Blanco Recreation Center reopens, it will be the same building.
Only better.
In fact, it will be like new, said Tim Webber, director of Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan Recreation and Park District.
That’s thanks to a $7 million remodeling project, which is under way, as of this week.
“I can’t wait to see the finished product,” said Webber, who, along with his staff, was moving out of the offices at the recreation center last week and into temporary quarters at the Early Education Center (EEC).
“What we’re doing with the remodel, when we’re done, is we will have a 30-year-old building, but it will be like a brand new facility that would cost probably $40 million (to build from scratch),” he said.
The remodeling project has been in the works for three years. That’s how long Webber has been the director. He knew, from the first time he set foot in the rec center, the building needed a facelift.
“We still have a very nice facility,” he said. “It just needed to be updated. It’s time.”
Last week, workers were in the process of moving telephone lines. The rec center will have the same phone number during its year-long home at the EEC.
“The rec staff has done a wonderful job, floating between here and there (EEC),” Webber said.
Included in the construction project will be a new pool, along with a hot tub and water slide. There will also be a new roof over the pool. Additionally, the rec center will receive a new front entrance and lobby area, an expanded weight room, new locker rooms and a new, multipurpose meeting room.
Since the time Webber first started researching the remodeling of the rec center, costs have skyrocketed.
“Prices have quadrupled since we first started looking into this,” he said. “It’s crazy.”
The community passed a $5.5 million bond issue last November, which will cover the majority of the price tag. The rec center is also using some of its own reserves to help fund the project. And a Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant for $500,000 “put us where we needed to be to do the project,” Webber said.
Part of the bond money, around $100,000, along with another $80,000 DOLA grant, was used to make improvements at Elks Park, such new playground equipment and rubberized surface.
As far as the rec center, it was showing its age.
“We’ve been patching things over the years,” Webber said. “We did the best we could do.”
The contractor for the rec center project is FCI Constructors of Grand Junction.
“That’s the same contractor that built the rec center in Meeker,” Webber said, holding up a four-inch thick project manual.
There will be as many as 40 workers at a time working on site.
“Housing is a huge challenge,” Webber said. “There is none.”
Workers were scheduled to start this week with the first phase.
“Monday the demolition starts,” Webber said. “Dust is going to fly.”
At the same time he has been immersed in the remodeling project, Webber has been busy gearing up for this weekend’s Rangely Septemberfest. But he’s glad the time has finally come for the construction work to begin.
“I knew what I had to do from the get-go,” Webber said. “I’m excited.”