Parks and Rec Commission backs motorized events at Howelsen

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— The Parks and Recreation Commission is advising the City Council to continue to allow motorized events at Howelsen Hill.

Chair Peter Van De Carr said Howelsen Hill's long history of motorized events and the city's ability to view events on a case-by-case basis convinced the commission that the current policy should not be changed.

"More importantly than the historical use, everything is considered on a case by case basis," Van De Carr said. "I think that both the Parks and Recreation Commission and City Council have the opportunity to still monitor and regulate any form of motorized vehicles."

The council asked the committee to look at the appropriateness of allowing motorized vehicles at Howelsen Hill after the controversy surrounding a two-day snowmobile event at Romick Arena during the holiday season.

The council approved the two-day event in December, but two months later it said no to a one-day, one-hour snowmobile event at Romick Arena. The March 7 event was later moved to grounds at the Steamboat Springs Airport.

In its discussion, the Parks and Recreation Commission felt that if another location existed outside of Howelsen Hill, that space should be fully investigated. It also recommended a debriefing or damage assessment report after each event.

Van De Carr said the city has a long history of motorized events in the Howelsen Hill Community Park. Stock cars, snow motorcycle races, snowmobile races and vintage motorcycle trials have all been allowed.

The Parks and Recreation Commission is a recommending board and the council can overturn its decision.

The December snowmobile event spurred complaints from six citizens. The majority of the complaints happened before the event.

The Routt County Dispatch received two complaints about noise and one air pollution concerns. Dispatch also received a call supporting the event.

Noise tests taken before and during the event showed decibel levels exceeded the city code only in the immediate vicinity of the grounds. The loudest contributor to the noise pollution outside of the arena was the PA system.

Van De Carr said the reasonable decibel level was another factor in recommending that motorized events be allowed.

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