Planning Commission asks for sidewalks

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The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission refused to budge about when the city can build sidewalks for its renovated Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

In its plans for the $2 million upgrades to the Tennis Center, the city had proposed building a sidewalk connecting the new tennis facility to Pine Grove Road next spring. But at the Planning Commission meeting Thursday night, commissioners said they want to see the improvements before the facility is given a certificate of occupancy, which was hoped to have occurred in 2005.

The commission voted unanimously to require the city to build the sidewalk in time for the opening of the new tennis facility.

"I think the Planning Com-mission should always send a clear message that we need sidewalks, especially on city projects," City Planning Commissioner Cari Hermacinski said. "They ought to be leading the charge."

With the expansion of the Tennis Center, the city's development code requires an internal sidewalk from Pine Grove Road to the Tennis Center, something that Director of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Chris Wilson said he didn't know about until a planning meeting a few weeks ago.

The city had not budgeted for that portion of the sidewalk in 2005, but could do it in 2006, he said. Wilson said the city had no intention of skimping on sidewalks.

"We understand it is a need. We support pedestrian connections," Wilson said.

The city budgeted for building a sidewalk along Pine Grove Road from the Mountain Fire Station to the Meadows Parking Lot this summer. Some portions of the sidewalk would go in front of the Tennis Center.

Next spring, the city could set aside money to build the internal sidewalk connecting Pine Grove Road to the Tennis Center and run along the nearby baseball fields, Wilson said.

Wilson asked that the Plan-ning Commission allow for some leeway so the city could budget for sidewalks and build them in 2006.

"Given the Tennis Center will not be useable until the first snow flies, I don't see a lot of people walking to the Tennis Center in winter," Wilson said. "We will still meet the code requirements if we do it in the spring."

Because the Planning Com-mission is a recommending body only, the Steamboat Springs City Council will make the final determination about when the sidewalk should be built. The council also has the authority to allocate money to the 2005 budget to build the required sidewalk. The council is scheduled to hear the plan May 17.

Wilson said he does not know how much the proposed sidewalk would cost, but noted sidewalks cost about $50 per linear foot.

The Planning Commission had very few other concerns about the tennis-facility proposal. The city is proposing to replace the cloth tennis bubble, which is kept up by air, with a framed structure that has a fabric outer layer.

The new facility also would add two courts and have new offices, a viewing area and day locker space.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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