OUR VIEW

Access issues

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If Triple Crown pulls up stakes and finds another home for its baseball and softball tournaments, will summertime traffic, noise and congestion be diminished significantly?

It seems unlikely. Right now, Triple Crown is an easy target for locals' frustration with summertime crowds, but any evidence suggesting Triple Crown is the source of those crowd problems is anecdotal at best. What isn't anecdotal is the economic impact Triple Crown has on the community. Millions of dollars each year are pumped into the area by the players and families who come week after week throughout the summer.

It's important to keep Triple Crown in Steamboat. And because it's important to keep Triple Crown here, it's important for the city to consider granting the organization access to the fields at Emerald Park.

Yes, promises were made when the fields were built that they would be for "locals only." Yes, Pamela Lane residents were told the city would work to keep traffic to a minimum.

But continuing to keep Triple Crown off the newest and best fields in the city no longer seems fair or sensible. Steamboat Little League has already indicated its willingness to allow Triple Crown on the fields. The rest of the community should, too.

After initially saying the Emerald Park fields were off the table in its Triple Crown negotiations, the city indicated last week it might be willing to discuss the matter if it can first create a different vehicle access to the Emerald Park fields. That seems fair.

Currently, taking Trafalgar Drive to Pamela Lane is the only way to access the parking lot for the fields and the Yampa River Botanic Park. Residents on Pamela Lane are already concerned about the amount of traffic on their residential street without Triple Crown games being played there.

Last week the city discussed three options for changing the access into the park. The least expensive option creating access behind the homes on Pamela Lane at an estimated cost of $500,000 was largely rejected by the Pamela Lane residents who said that alternative is almost as bad as the current situation.

The better alternative seems to be extending Ski Town Way across the railroad tracks to the parking area for the Botanic Park and the fields at Emerald. Under this scenario, there would be no need for vehicles to use Pamela Lane unless they were going to one of the homes on the street.

Because extending Ski Town Way will require crossing the railroad, this is not an inexpensive option. It will require winning railroad approval and substantial property acquisition. The city estimates it will cost more than $2 million. Still, it's an idea worth pursuing. Whether Triple Crown gets to use Emerald Park, demand for access to the area by others is only going to increase and finding a way to divert that traffic from using a residential street makes sense.

Here's a thought perhaps Triple Crown should partner with the city on creating the alternative access. Doing so might earn the organization the kind of support Triple Crown has thus far found hard to come by in Steamboat.

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