After finishing in 2nd for lodging tax dollars, Yampa Street stakeholders resume other revitalization efforts
April 24, 2013
Steamboat Springs — The final meeting of Steamboat Springs’ lodging tax committee was a roller coaster ride for the downtown business owners who want to revitalize Yampa Street with the addition of several parks and a promenade.
At the meeting, the business owners came close to earning millions of dollars from the lodging tax revenue to set their project in motion.
But in the final hour, four out of the six members on the committee that has spent months vetting several applications for the tax were more enticed by the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance’s plans to promote tourism by building new hiking and biking trails in Steamboat.
There was no consolation prize for second place.
After it wrestled with whether to fund both final proposals with the tax, the committee chose to recommend that nearly all of revenue for the next decade go toward projects proposed by the Trails Alliance.
The recommendation will be weighed by the Steamboat City Springs Council next month.
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"It was disappointing," Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said.
The lodging tax committee’s decision makes the outlook for the Yampa Street project muddier, Barnett said, but not unfeasible.
It also remains to be seen whether the City Council will accept the lodging tax committee’s recommendation or decide to allocate the revenue differently.
"It’s not dead, and we shouldn’t put this plan back on the shelf," Barnett said. "It’s still a viable project and a necessary project. We just have to figure out how to do it."
With the lodging tax dollars, downtown stakeholders planned to purchase nearly all of the vacant land parcels on the river-facing side of the street and convert them into parks before they are potentially developed by others.
In the wake of the lodging tax committee’s recommendation, the Yampa Street revitalization committee is taking a breather and plans to regroup after spring break.
While the parks and promenade would be the centerpiece of revitalization efforts on the roadway, other changes still are afoot for Yampa.
Barnett on Wednesday said Mainstreet is making significant progress in planning a slew of new events for Yampa Street this summer to test its potential as a festival street.
She said a new event called Yampa Street Live will bring concerts, beer gardens and other themed events to a portion of the street on a Sunday in June, July and September.
The June 23 event tentatively is slated to have a beach party theme, the July event a dog days theme, and the September one a Western theme.
"They’re all meant to be family oriented," Barnett said. "The idea for doing these is to not only test Yampa’s potential as a festival street, but to also see if we can get people to stay longer on a Sunday afternoon. Oftentimes people try to leave early to beat the traffic. We think if they have something to do later in the afternoon they may stay longer.”
She envisioned some blocks of Yampa will be closed to vehicles during the events.
The planning for the new events comes as the downtown revitalization committee still is exploring the creation of a new urban renewal authority to fund improvement projects through tax incremental financing.
Committee members also are weighing whether to ask downtown property owners to approve a new tax of up to 4 mills to fund the downtown’s business improvement district. A vote to fund the district in 2007 failed by six votes.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com