Our View: Refining the future of Yampa Street | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Refining the future of Yampa Street

— The challenge facing Yampa Street in downtown Steamboat Springs is actually good news — it means the vision of a vibrant entertainment district is coming to fruition. There are challenges, of course, but it's encouraging to see the city taking steps toward eventual infrastructure improvements and to hear the leader of a downtown business group rallying the community to refine its vision for the area.

It's been fascinating to watch the Yampa Street transformation. What was once a largely ignored riverside avenue — particularly compared with its big sister, Lincoln Avenue — has become a corridor buoyed by newer restaurants, bars and retail spaces. The construction in recent years of new residential and multiuse buildings has helped add to the traffic — both pedestrian and vehicular — that often has Yampa Street swarming with cyclists, pedestrians and cars on weekends.

Proximity to the Yampa River, the Yampa River Core Trail, Howelsen Hill and the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena also has helped fuel Yampa Street's revival. But its surge in popularity shines a spotlight on its most glaring issues, including the presence of a Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue station, the Routt County Search and Rescue barn and Yampa Valley Electric Association's massive building and truck bay, a lack of southside sidewalks and curbs, confusing parallel-parking areas and an absence of bike lanes.

Sidewalks, curbs, parking and bike lanes for Yampa Street are addressed in the city's $439,000 downtown streetscapes plan put together by Britina Design Group in May 2007. That same plan was used in the design of the recent Lincoln Avenue makeover.

Funding those improvements is another story. Although Public Works Director Philo Shelton said the city would stripe bike lanes on Yampa Street within the next couple of weeks, he acknowledged that major infrastructure work is years away.

Tracy Barnett, manager of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, told the Steamboat Springs City Council last week that planning for the redevelopment of Yampa Street should begin in earnest. We agree with her that now is an appropriate time for the community to refine its vision for Yampa Street and to identify potential funding sources and a project timeline. Hammering out the details now will bring us one step closer to achieving a vision that already is bearing fruit one block south of Lincoln Avenue.

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