$22M Rec Center expansion paused after several concerns raised

JACKSON, Wyo. — Concerns about the Rec Center expansion have paused the project for now. The ambitious $22M project—approved by voters in a 2019 SPET election—is to include a climbing gym, an indoor track, and other recreational amenities.

In recent months, the project has met with numerous challenges from the choice of builder, to the size of the climbing gym, to COVID, of course.

At a recent county meeting, Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation director Steve Ashworth told commissioners, “This is a very, very large project with a lot of passionate stakeholders.” Ashworth essentially asked for the expansion to be put on hold until he was properly staffed and a closer look into the bidding process could be made.

Chamber of Commerce president Anna Olson got involved after several local contractors complained publicly that an internal Parks and Rec advisory panel was recommending an out-of-state builder for the job over local bids.

That wasn’t the only hangup.

A survey conducted by the Teton Climbers’ Coalition (TCC) found a vast majority of those in the climbing community believe the climbing gym will be far too small if built to spec.

More than 85% of 300+ respondents indicated that the 5,750 square foot climbing area would be inadequate for the needs of the community.

“Way too small,” one respondent commented.

“Don’t even bother building a climbing gym if it’s only 5,000 sf,” wrote another.

“This gym has got to be big (at least Enclosure-sized) to be a worthwhile climbing facility and not constantly crowded,” stated yet another.

As the $22M in funding is slowly collected from sales tax over the next couple of years, Ashworth and company will head back to the drawing board on the Rec Center plan for expansion.

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