County, city reach Spring Creek breakthrough

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— What city and county officials call a dangerous mix of vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians on the county road through Spring Creek Canyon is one step closer to resolution.

Routt County and Steamboat Springs officials have agreed to fund a solution involving an alternative access for vehicles, which would enable the existing county road to be converted to trail use only.

Also this week, the Steamboat Springs City Council: Granted a liquor license for the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center. The license will allow liquor to be served at the hotel on Mt. Werner Circle and the Steamboat Grand Club in Gondola Square. Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. withdrew a request to serve liquor in the Knoll parking lot; Approved a four-lot subdivision below Pioneer Village off U.S. 40. The one-acre lot will be divided into four lots for modular homes for the Ortencia Bettger family; Approved a lot line adjustment for Esther DelliQuadri at 232 Spruce St; Approved the second reading of an ordinance for an operating license agreement between the city and Beagle Air Tours; Approved the second reading of an ordinance for a grazing lease between the city and the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District for a 10-acre site behind the Forest Service building on U.S. 40. The Forest Service will pay the city $75 a month; Recognized Yampa Valley Recycles as the Colorado Recycler of the Year; Approved a resolution supporting the efforts of the Emerald Mountain Partnership; Approved a resolution accepting the Howelsen Hill Rodeo Arena license agreement.

The City Council voted unanimously this week to accept an offer from the county to contribute $75,000 for improvements to the Spring Creek trail area.

"It's a major step forward for finally resolving the vacation. Then we can bring the unanimous consent of the land owners to the county and say 'Let's vacate the road,'" City Councilman Ken Brenner said.

The city plans to pay $75,000 to buy the access rights of the handful of landowners in the canyon who use County Road 34 to get to their properties. The property owners would use the money to construct a private, one-mile driveway to the upper parts of the canyon and give up their rights to drive vehicles on the county road.

No county money would be spent on the new road, though.

The county also attached two conditions to their $75,000. The city and the affected landowners must come up with a petition to vacate C.R. 34, and an alternate access for the affected property owners must be included in the vacation petition so they're not left without a way to get to their land.

Chris Wilson, the city's director of parks, recreation and open space, said he planned to pick up the vacation petition paperwork this week.

C.R. 34 is the only vehicular access to seven private properties in the Spring Creek area.

The road doubles as the Spring Creek trail and is used for bicycling, hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing.

The issue of what to do with Spring Creek Road has been a contentious one ever since a city trail system was built through Spring Creek Mountain Park in 1993.

At that time, the county issued the city a permit to maintain the trail and nature park along C.R. 34.

A condition of that permit was that the city either move the trail off the road, or work with property owners to have them vacate the road to vehicular use.

Spring Creek property owner George Ojdrovich said the other land owners in the area have agreed to build a new road for approximately $130,000 through two properties owned by Terri Huffington-Dittman and Beth Findell.

Landowners in upper Spring Creek Canyon would access the proposed road via an existing driveway across from the Strawberry Park school campus.

Even though the alternate road agreement is a major breakthrough, Brenner said he's still concerned about the first half-mile of Spring Creek Road. That portion of the road to the reservoir, which allows vehicles, is still an important safety concern because of its mixed use, he said.

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