Downtown lights on hold
New city decorations, paid for by grants, to be displayed in 2010
December 26, 2009
Steamboat Springs — The city of Steamboat Springs made a substantial investment in new holiday lights for the trees along Lincoln Avenue, but residents and visitors will have to wait until next year to see them.
The city's old downtown holiday lighting was about 15 years old and had exceeded its life expectancy, said Steve Hoots, project and energy manager for the city's facilities department. So the city bought and intended to install new LED lighting to put in the trees downtown for the holidays, but early snow pushed back the city's decorating plans for a year.
The facilities department was, however, able to install snowflake lights to the lampposts downtown. The snowflakes replaced the spurs that previously adorned the posts.
The new LED lights were bought using a $869,273 lease purchase agreement with Wells Fargo that was approved by the City Council on Nov. 3. The city then entered a performance contract with Seattle-based McKinstry to implement several energy efficiency improvement projects in Steamboat and at city-owned facilities.
McKinstry, which has been approved as a performance contractor by Gov. Bill Ritter's Energy Office, previously worked with the Hayden and South Routt school districts.
The performance contract will allow the city to pay for labor, materials and equipment associated with the improvements, which will be paid back from the long-term energy savings from using LED lights, said Ann Small, the city's purchasing and contracts manager. She said the contract is for 10 years.
Small said the savings would be realized immediately.
"We're actually anticipating more savings than cost," she said.
About $88,000 of the lease purchase agreement is dedicated to the new lighting downtown, Small said. Hoots said that also included lighting over and across Lincoln Avenue.
"We've talked for the last four years about getting new decorations, but it was never in the budget," Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Executive Director Tracy Barnett said. "So this is a big help."
She said the downtown holiday lighting in recent years continually had gotten dimmer. And, Barnett said, many of Steamboat's visitors didn't know that the spur was the city's logo and, therefore, didn't understand the significance of the old spur lights that lined downtown.
The remainder of the performance contract will be used for projects throughout Steamboat. They are new lighting at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs and improvements to several city facilities, including Howelsen Ice Arena, Steamboat Springs Airport, the public works facility, transit center, City Hall and Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services buildings.
Small said she expected the projects to be completed next year.
"We're looking forward to implementing a lot of these improvements so we can be more energy efficient," she said. "As the owner of these facilities, we want to be proactive in that arena."