Steamboat City Council appoints 1st lodging tax steering committee for trails |

Steamboat City Council appoints 1st lodging tax steering committee for trails

Matthew Doro rides through a sunlit meadow on Emerald Mountain during a Quarry Mountain Town Challenge race in Steamboat Springs. The city has appointed the first steering committee to help oversee funding of trails projects.

— Now the hard work begins.

The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night appointed the seven members of the first steering committee that will help oversee the spending of an estimated $5.1 million on trail projects during the next decade.

The committee members told the council that they were excited by the potential of using this money to bring more tourists to town and enhance Steamboat’s reputation as a world class cycling destination in the same caliber as places such as Moab, Utah, and Sedona, Ariz.

But the five-minute interviews with all of the candidates for the committee revealed there will be some challenges this group and the city soon will have to overcome.

They include weighing the benefits of adding more challenging trails, such as the downhill gravity variety, versus improving in-town trails and connections such as the Yampa River Core Trail.

Although the $5.1 million from the lodging tax will provide trail projects with a hefty figure for the next decade, it still won’t be nearly enough to embark on all of the dream trail projects in this city.

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The Core Trail extension south of the Legacy Ranch alone is estimated to cost anywhere from $1.7 million for a soft trail to $4.4 million for a paved one.

And the city estimates that the entire portfolio of all the trail projects presented by the Steamboat Springs Trails Alliance totals more than $20 million.

Another challenge facing the new steering committee will be balancing all of the different trail users in town from hikers to bikers to horseback riders to motorized users.

The trail projects also will receive a limited amount of funding during the next few years because the lodging tax will be split with the Yampa River Promenade until it receives $900,000.

"Patience is a goal (this committee) will need to establish with the community," council member Walter Magill said. "People think this is going to be a quick turnaround, but we don’t have a way to leverage these funds right now."

He said in the first year, he thinks the committee will have to focus on more of a long-term vision than embarking on any substantial trail projects.

Perhaps some of the most significant progress will be work already scheduled on Emerald Mountain trails.

"They won’t have enough money for all of their options. I think it’s going to be more of a long-term outlook," Magill said.

The council has a diverse and experienced group of community members to lean on now when it decides how to fund the trails projects.

Member Pete Wither, for example, helped design and build the original mountain bike trails at Steamboat Ski Area and served on the City Council during the original design and construction of the Yampa River Core Trail.

He even has a biking trail named after him.

Scott Marr, the owner of the Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs, served on the lodging tax committee that arrived at the recommendation to fund the trails projects.

He’s well aware of all the projects in the big binder of possibilities.

And committee member Gavin Malia helped Routt County Riders acquire GIS software and consolidated trail GIS data from several entities to create a catalog of trail data for the valley.

He also has experience managing large scale construction projects.

The other committee members include Realtor Jon Wade, CPA Dan Bonner, Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare co-owner Harry Martin, and David High, the vice president of Alpine Bank.

The city received more than 20 applications for the new trails committee.

City Council President Bart Kounovsky said the town is fortunate that so many experienced people stepped up to serve, and it was hard turning anyone away.

He hopes they’ll still be involved in the process.

“Everybody who sat here could do an outstanding job,” Kounovsky said in the room where the finalists were interviewed.

The committee is expected to meet for the first time before the end of this month.

Interviews with the finalists for the separate Yampa River Promenade steering committee are scheduled for Jan. 21.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210, email or follow him on Twitter @ScottFranz10

Trails lodging tax committee members

Lodging: Scott Marr, owner of the Holiday Inn of Steamboat Springs

Chamber representative: Harry Martin, co-owner of Steamboat Ski & Bike Kare

Bike Town USA: David High, vice president of Alpine Bank

At large: Jon Wade, broker/owner at the Steamboat Group/Colorado Group Realty

At large: Dan Bonner, CPA with Tredway, Henion, Palmquist and Kusy

At large: Gavin Malia, development manager for Resort Ventures West

At large: Pete Wither, broker/owner at Colorado Group Realty

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