A Middle Valley man was due to learn this week if his updated plan to build a privately funded recreation center in the El Jebel area can move from the drawing board to the government review process.
Sheldon Wolitski said he has a conceptual agreement to purchase 5.5 acres of land for the recreation center from Crawford Properties, owners of El Jebel Plaza and the mobile home park, as well as surrounding commercial properties and vacant lots. The proposed purchase of land in the heart of El Jebel is pending Eagle County approval for the recreation center and associated buildings.
Wolitski said he has scheduled a preliminary meeting with Eagle County officials this week to gauge what will be required in the review process. If he is optimistic about the prospects, he will proceed with a formal application, he said. A proposal would be required to go through Eagle County’s review process with public hearings.
The location is vacant land north of JW Drive and east of the Blue Lake Subdivision. It also borders a plot of land set aside for a primary school.
“It really ticks every box,” Wolitski said via the website.
His checklist includes a flat lot with readily available infrastructure, a nearby bus stop, and access for the Latino population. Wolitski said he’s not sure when the Roaring Fork School District intends to build the elementary school, but he would like to propose the idea of sharing parking with the facility for at least some of the required land. School usage would be highest during the day. After school and into the evening, use of the leisure center would be at its highest.
His vision is to build a 60,000 square foot facility that will include an indoor hockey and ice rink with an additional outdoor rink in winter. a multipurpose field house that would include a track for running and walking; and, at a later stage, companies focused on health, wellness and longevity. The Feldhaus would have a state-of-the-art fitness center, as well as areas for indoor soccer, lacrosse, and other activities. The structure would have multiple garage doors that could be opened under the right conditions. He explores the idea of a world-class climbing wall.
“How do we make it a one-stop shop?” he said.
The idea of a Midvalley recreation center has been floated for several years. Wolitsky’s vision is unique because he would develop it without taxpayer help.
“That would be 100 percent chargeable,” he said. “My number one goal is to make it affordable.”
Wolitski is a successful entrepreneur who recently moved to the Roaring Fork Valley with his family. He has a passion for hockey, having grown up playing it in Canada and college in the US. He shifts his focus from his business to philanthropy.
Through his venture called Colorado Extreme, he installed a cooling system for an outdoor ice and hockey rink at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel this year. Free programs to get kids skating and introducing them to hockey attracted more than 400 participants this winter. The program will conclude the season with Ice Age and a potluck dinner on March 11th.
Wolitsky hopes to move the outdoor rink to the JW Drive site next winter. Its goal is to apply the same do-it-yourself spirit to the broader vision of a recreation center.
Wolitski initially considered locating the facility on land leased from Crown Mountain Park, but decided for various reasons that it would be best for his organization to own the land where the recreation center would be located.
Most recently, he explored a location across from the Carbondale Rodeo Grounds across Catherine Road, but ultimately ruled it out due to a lack of infrastructure.
He is now excited at the prospect of working with Crawford Properties at the El Jebel location.