Elizabeth considers community center

Town holds meetings to get resident feedback on possible facility

The Town of Elizabeth has held two meetings with residents to discuss the possibility of building a local community and senior activity center. On Feb. 18, more than 50 people were present for the meeting, including members of the Elizabeth Board of Trustees, Town Administrator Patrick Davidson and Mayor Nick Snively.
The meetings were held to gauge public interest and gather feedback and suggestions for the potential center. The process is in its preliminary planning stages and no decisions have been made. There is no plan to raise taxes on town residents.
The Town of Elizabeth has been working with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the University of Colorado-Denver’s Technical Assistance Program to begin designing the center. Designs were presented at the Feb. 18 meeting by three graduate students with CU-Denver’s College of Architecture and Planning along with lead architect Jeffrey Wood.

2022 survey results

In September 2022, the Town of Elizabeth sent out a survey to its residents, hoping to determine whether there is a need for a community and senior activity center. The survey was meant to gauge interest and determine which amenities the residents of Elizabeth would like to see in a potential center. More than 200 residents filled out the survey.
From the survey, the architects compiled several things residents would like to see in the center. All of these are under consideration and have not been solidified as a part of any final plan.
• Large hall (for group gatherings and could be used by other Elbert County residents)
• Commercial kitchen suitable for meal preparation (Meals on Wheels) and catered events
• Living room for relaxing, gathering with friends, watching television, coffee, etc.
• Administrative office(s)
• Welcome lobby
• Classrooms/flex space (exercise space, yoga, lifelong learning)
• Game room
• Restrooms, storage, and support spaces
• Programed outdoor spaces
• Community gardens and therapeutic gardens
• Tennis and pickleball
• Open space for lawn games and outdoor classes (Tai Chi, yoga, Pilates, meditation, dance)
• Horseshoe pits
• Playground (for visiting family members or event rentals)
• Classrooms/flex space (exercise space, yoga, lifelong learning)
• Outdoor covered lounge
• Outdoor kitchen and grill
• Space to host outdoor movie nights
Also from the survey, residents were able to write comments and make suggestions. Below are several comments from residents and what they would like to see.
• A place to make new friends and gather with familiar faces for a cup of coffee, an afternoon meal or perhaps a movie night.
• A place to stretch our legs … and backs and shoulders while we are at it!
• A place to show off your gardening skills or toss a horseshoe or two … or maybe try out this new pickleball fad!
• Maybe a place to watch a Bronco game with friends.
• A home away from home.
• A place to prepare meals, for those unable to leave their homes, as well as those who can.
• Maybe a place to learn how to cook healthy meals for just one or two.
• A growing community needs to serve residents of all ages and perhaps the larger space could be used by other residents of the county for receptions, reunions, weddings.
• An indoor and outdoor place where the great weather of the area invites us outside.
Lead architect Wood and his students presented several designs of potential buildings for the center, all with different layouts and amenities. Elizabeth locals provided feedback on each of the designs, citing which they liked best and how to improve certain aspects of the layouts.
“The bathrooms that are in the back, there are a lot of turns there to get around with wheelchairs,” said one resident in attendance.
Another stated: “Personally, I think all three of the designs are too cut up. What do we need all these little rooms for? To me it doesn’t look senior conducive.”
Others commented on the general concept and the exterior designs.
“I personally think Elizabeth is about the Western way of life and I like design C. I think that it is very compatible to what we see around here regularly,” said one woman in attendance. “I don’t know if I like white though.”
Wood responded that the town could paint it whatever color they like. His comment was met with laughs.

Location and timeline

Throughout the course of the meeting, several other important topics were discussed. These topics included location and timeline, funding, working with county groups and how to deal with water.
Currently there is no designated location for the potential senior facility, though the town is hoping to have it located near the Elizabeth branch of the Pines and Plains Library system. Based on survey results and focused community meetings, the planning committee will determine how much space the facility should need. From there, a location will be set.
According to Town Administrator Patrick Davidson and Wood, the general timeline for completion, should the project move forward, would be within the frame of three to five years.
“I am a homeschooling mom with elementary kids. I have watched homeschooling explode after the pandemic. I love this because it will likely be right by the library,” said one resident in attendance. “One of the programs we want to start is where the children who are learning to read will read to the seniors. It is a perfect program to work with the library too.”
A big question for residents is how the project would be funded. The Town of Elizabeth received a $5,000 grant through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to facilitate the planning of the project. Other funding for the potential space will come from grants and town savings.
“I’m going to be asking the state to fund it. I’m going to be asking for the federal government to fund it. I’m going to be asking for private donations to help fund it,” said Davidson. “I’m going to ask big companies if they want to assist. We’ll have telehealth, so I’m going to get ahold of UCHealth and see if we can name a room after them. We have some very high-level conversations with the VA. They would be willing to put in, especially for counseling, check-ins, and things like that.”

County collaboration

One man in attendance questioned whether the town had already reached out to the fire department and other county organizations to prepare for the potential new community and senior activity center. Currently, the Town of Elizabeth is working with several local and county groups to help make this project a reality.
“The county is aware,” said Davidson. “Each county commissioner has been invited to come to the meetings. The metro districts are aware that we are in this process. I’ve reached out to them as well. Working with the fire department is where we got the idea to seek FEMA funding for the purposes of backup generators, assisting in the kitchen. This would be a shelter-in-place location. We’ve talked to both the state and national organizations on what that would look like.”

Dealing with water

Lastly, a growing concern of residents is the availability of water around the town and the greater Denver area. One graduate architect student, Michelle Lazarz, addressed this concern, stating her desire to implement xeriscaping around the potential community center. Xeriscaping is a water-conscious approach to landscaping that reduces or eliminates the need for watering and irrigation.
According to her presentation, “classic rock-filled xeriscaping increases heat and provides little to no ecosystem services. Instead, several perennials are happy in xeric conditions and require low to moderate irrigation during the first few years of establishment. After that, many only require irrigation during periods of severe drought.”
Elizabeth, Elbert County, community center, senior center, Colorado


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