Friday, August 23, 2013

Growing SVSEF adds to Greyhawk space

An upgrade in Warm Springs

     Reflecting the growth of one of the country’s top junior ski and snowboard programs, the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation (SVSEF) is expanding its operating space in the Greyhawk Building at the bottom of Warm Springs.

     Demolition work on the old locker rooms began in early June with construction due for completion in October. Administration offices and coaches’ quarters will now be located on a newly acquired third-floor space in the same building.

     SVSEF office manager Jody Zarkos said over the past year, a trio of longtime SVSEF supporters—Steve Shafran, Kipp Nelson and Jack Bunce—purchased the 1,600 square-foot condominium on the third floor of the Greyhawk Building and offered to lease it to the SVSEF for $1 per year.

     In addition the donor group provided the SVSEF with a significant cash gift of $175,000 to support the initiation of a $1.5 million capital campaign to pay for the renovations.

     For 26 years since acquiring a 2,300 square-foot space in the Greyhawk Building in 1987, the SVSEF has been located on the second floor of the three-story facility located walking distance from Warm Springs Lodge and the Warm Springs ski run.

     SVSEF administrative offices and locker rooms were acquired and constructed in two phases in 1990 and 1992 from two condominiums on the second floor. At that time, the space housed alpine and snowboard athletes, coaches as well as a fledgling freestyle program.

     Originally, the nearly 60-year-old SVSEF was funded by a grant from the Sun Valley Ski Club, and the junior ski program was located in cramped ski club offices on Sun Valley Mall. During the 1970s and 1980s, the SVSEF had 150 alpine athletes, 35 Nordic kids and 22 coaches. The move from that small space into the Greyhawk Building started a period of rapid growth.

     SVSEF enrollment hit a high of 500 athletes in 2007 and has hovered close to that mark since then. The staff has grown exponentially, reaching 66 coaches (excluding cross country) and 10 administrative members in 2012. With the increase of bodies the walls of the 3,600 square-foot Engl Training Center closed in fairly fast, said Zarkos.

     Zarkos added, “None of it would have brought to fruition without the largesse of several altruistic individuals who have banded together to build the new clubhouse and office space.”

     SVSEF board president Jonathan Neeley said, “The old locker rooms were completely used up. It had grown piecemeal over the years, was not efficiently laid out and was smelly, old and dirty.”

     Don Wiseman, former SVSEF executive director, said, “We had been talking about what we needed to do be the best junior team in the nation since I was hired in 2002 and facilities were a big part. We had been through several plans. For one reason or another, nothing ever came to fruition.”

     “The donor group jump started this project and motivated our board to address the needed improvements in our locker room facilities,” Neeley said. “It is an unbelievable opportunity—a cornerstone facility gift that is going to provide so much for our community of winter athletes."

     Former board member Nelson, along with Shafran and Bunce, longtime program parents with ties to the Community School and Sun Valley Ski Academy, have been on board to improve the SVSEF from the outset, according to Wiseman.

     The Grabher Construction firm led by general contractors Elmar, Fritz and Elizabeth, architect Michael Blash, project manager Morley Golden and interior designer Jennifer Hoey, are steering the project, offering professional services as an in-kind donation or at reduced rates, said Zarkos.

     “The SVSEF was incredibly fortunate to have this group of professional builders, architects, and managers share their skills with us. They have this project on-time and masterfully designed,” SVSEF Executive Director Rob Clayton said.

     Clayton added, “This was a significant undertaking for the SVSEF and we could not have done it without everyone’s support and involvement.”

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