Carbondale’s Third Street Center seeks major upgrade

Six years after transforming from an old elementary school into a buzzing community center, Carbondale’s Third Street Center is looking for nearly $500,000 to start its next phase of redevelopment.2016-07-29_1631

If anything, the initial effort underestimated how much of a hub of activity the Third Street Center would become for the region, said Colin Laird, the facility’s director. On his list are several needed upgrades that weren’t addressed in the first overhaul of the school.

The center had planned to pursue of Department of Local Affairs grant for the improvements. But a recent British Petroleum lawsuit against DOLA has the agency paying millions to BP, so that grant was the first thing to go.

The center has already approached Garfield County commissioners, and Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said the town government should apply for a grant from the Federal Mineral Lease District.

 The FMLD is a county-built entity that’s distributed more $15 million from federal mineral leases in the last five years for municipal infrastructure projects.

In this preliminary stage of the next redevelopment effort, Laird said center leaders are unsure of who else will be approached for money. He expects that a more formal fundraising campaign will start in the fall.

But if this effort goes well, Laird and the board plan to start the redevelopment with the building’s gym, which was left largely untouched while the rest of the elementary school was revamped six years ago.

The space works well for events that don’t need much light, like for a production of “James and the Giant Peach” that Theatre Aspen performed in the gym Thursday

Laird envisions a design for the gym that’s much like the Calaway Room (though about three times as big) with plenty of natural lighting flooding in.

2016-07-29_1632The board plans to bring in natural light by adding two skylights, six windows and new sets of windowed doors.

These upgrades, along with some improvements to the gym’s interior and acoustics, would cost about $150,000, Laird estimates.

One of the biggest planned projects is to expand the building’s parking, including adding 40 to 50 parking spaces on the east side of the building. The Third Street Center board also wants to install “energy-producing shaded plaza” on south side.

Those projects are estimated at about $250,000.

Laird also wants to upgrade the facility’s kitchen, restrooms and old sewer lines that are still cast iron from the 1960s.

FMLD has already given the center of couple of mini-grants totaling $30,000 for heating systems, water lines, restrooms and some sewer line work.

The board will be looking for another $30,000 for men’s and women’s main restrooms and another $40,000 to clean and line the drain lines in the older part of the building, he said.

Laird pointed out Thursday that the main restroom was never upgraded from its original purpose for elementary-aged children. So the sinks and mirrors are still low enough to force grown adults to stoop down.

Improvements to Third Street itself are also planned to get underway this construction season. The town has $400,000 budgeted for improvements to what has become a busy corridor leading from downtown to the Third Street Center and Carbondale Branch Library.

And the design team has just recently released draft plans for these streetscape improvements.