For more than half a century, Oak Creek children -- and some adults -- have greeted fresh snow by pulling their sleds up the steep section of Moffat Avenue and riding down toward Decker Park.
Oak Creek town trustees unanimously upheld that tradition Thursday with their decision that a section of Moffat Avenue will be closed this winter as it has been every winter for as long as most residents can remember.
The discussion about keeping or moving the sled hill was sparked by questions of safety and disturbance to neighbors.
Mayor Cargo Rodeman began the discussion, saying that the bottom line was whether the town wanted to have a sled hill.
Town Trustee Mike Kien brought up the question of safety and said that in the past, there was less use at the bottom of the hill and that the hill was no longer as safe.
But, he said, even in years when the road was plowed, children continued to sled down.
Public Works Director Jim Photos said the sledding hill had been around for a while.
"That has been a sledding hill (for) 50 years, as I can remember," Photos said.
"Fifty-three," Town Trustee Bill Paxton said.
Rodeman said she could remember only one accident, when a boy slid under a parked vehicle and cut his face so badly he required stitches. His mother, she said, didn't sue the town.
But, Kien said, that might not happen today.
"I promise you, today that mother would sue the town," he said.
Trustees then agreed that the children would sled on the hill even if the town closed it, and that it was safer for the sledding hill to be in town where police and emergency responders are close by in the case of an accident.
Beth Wisecup, who was in attendance, said she preferred that the sledding hill stay on Moffat Avenue because it makes it possible for parents to keep an eye on the children.
The town trustees agreed that the closed road would be made as safe as possible for children.
The closure takes place on Moffat Avenue between Colfax Avenue and Williams Street. At each of those streets, there is a sign that warns drivers of children sledding.
In other business:
n The town trustees approved the proposed 2004 budget, with changes to salaries that had been made Wednesday night. In January, they will have the chance to approve appropriations of funds, which will include revised figures.
n Town trustees decided to draft a letter to the city of Steamboat Springs saying the town of Oak Creek is concerned about the city's efforts to obtain in-stream recreational water rights and would like to discuss the matter with the city before it obtains new water rights.
n Town trustees also were advised by Photos that the new water plant may not be operable until June, and Rodeman agreed to look into the delay.
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