Tuesday, September 10, 2002
Steamboat Springs Turning an unused sewer lagoon into an 18-acre park is a proposal the City Council supports but is not ready to fund.
The council praised the staff's preliminary plan to developed three lagoons southwest of the Routt County Jailhouse into a park with soccer, baseball and softball fields, a skate and bike park and an extension of the Yampa River Core Trail.
But most council members said they were not willing to part with the $3.2 million needed to transform the land.
By connecting the core trail to the west of town and building a park in a growing neighborhood while retaining open space, the plan meets several community objectives.
"I think this is a wonderful opportunity for us to pull together everything we have been working on," Council President Kathy Connell said. "But right now I feel like we don't have any funds."
Connell said money existed in the private sector, while Councilwoman Arianthe Stettner recommended looking at public partnerships.
Councilman Bud Romberg said city staff should investigate possible grant opportunities.
City Public Works Director Jim Weber said $610,000 was already allocated from the sewer and water utility fund to clean up and remove fences, materials and buildings on the sewer lagoon site.
Although the city does not have to pay the full $610,000 when it closes down the sewer lagoons, it will spend some money on the cleanup even if it is not turned into a park.
Linda Kakela, City Director of Intergovernmental Services, said the Yampa River Legacy Program has already designated $300,000 to the area for river realignment and trail extension.
Working with the grant money for two years, the program has secured $200,000 for wetland enhancement in that area and $100,000 for the core trail extension.
Kakela said with the possibility of connecting the core trail to a park, the nonprofit organization could also receive more funding.
"The legacy program would be very excited and supportive about working with the city on this," Kakela said.
Three other community groups came to the council in support of the plan and the potential to partner with the city.
Era MacDonald, assistant director of Yampatika, said her nonprofit organization is looking for land either west or east of Steamboat that could house a nature center and trails for environmental education.
"There is a tremendous amount of grant money in terms of environmental education," MacDonald said.
Representing the Steamboat Springs Swim Team, Tom Lichtenfels asked the council to consider building a community swimming pool when looking at the park.
And Cassandra Krause, who works with the downtown skate park and a group of middle school students, said she was willing to help co-sponsor a grant and do some fund-raising for the park's proposed skate and bike park.
Romberg also mentioned partnering with local schools and youth organizations that require students to do community service projects.
Built in the 1950s, the three lagoons were used for wastewater treatment until the 80s when the city's wastewater treatment plant was built.
Since then, the lagoons had been used as a sewage storage area when sewer lines reached capacity.
The completion of a major sewer line project allowing more capacity means the lagoons are no longer needed.
Fetcher Park, which sits east of downtown Steamboat and along the core trail, was an old sewer lagoon owned by Mount Werner Water District.