Group wants park dedicated

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Former Steamboat Springs City Council President Kevin Bennett has some unfinished business he hopes the council will begin to take care of Tuesday night.

When Bennett was president in 1999, Gloria Gossard donated a 120-acre piece of land that helped keep part of Emerald Mountain from being developed. The land, which includes the stone quarry and reaches to the top of the east side of Emerald Mountain, is one of the most treasured and used pieces of open space in Steamboat Springs, Bennett said.

It connects Howelsen Park with a city-owned parcel of land south of town, all of which is protected from development.

On Tuesday night, Bennett plans to ask the council to dedicate Gossard's donated land as Gloria Gossard Park, in honor of the former owner.

It was something Bennett thought about during his presidency and a request he made to the City Council two years ago. He and a group of community organizations that have benefited from Gossard's generosity are asking again, and this time, Bennett hopes for results.

"I think it is important that it be now," Bennett said. "Two-thirds of the homes in Steamboat look out on Emerald Mountain. That view is now preserved in perpetuity because of the vision of Gloria."

Gloria Gossard said the idea to donate the property first struck when her brother Bill and she were surveying land they considered selling. The two came across a family who said they loved to bring their children to the area for picnic lunches. The family said they would like to know that the land was public and that they were always welcome there.

"We got in the Jeep that we drove there, drove on down the trail and said we better just give this land to the city," Gossard said.

After Gossard donated the land, she received phone calls and was stopped on the sidewalk by people she didn't know -- all thanking her for the piece of open space.

"It was very rewarding to have people stop me on the street, calling me. I realized that people wanted that mountain, wanted it as theirs," she said.

The land was donated after the city purchased, with the help of state grants, an adjacent 171-acre parcel the Gossards had sold to a Texas developer. The city had approved plans for homes to be built on the land and later worked to preserve it from development.

"It's the coolest place on earth," Bennett said about the preserved land.

Gossard and her family have been instrumental figures in Steamboat's history. Her father, Henry Gossard, built the H.W. Gossard Co., which eventually became the largest corset business in the world.

Gossard introduced the United States to corsets that laced in the front, rather than the back, making them more comfortable and easier for women.

The family moved to Steamboat Springs in 1932, after numerous summertime visits, and owned a large cattle and sheep ranch in Moffat County. Gossard's father -- a self-made man who ran away from his Indiana farm at age 14 -- later marketed Steamboat's hot springs as a spa destination.

Bennett said it is not just the land donation that makes Gossard worthy of dedicating a park in her name. Gossard also has been instrumental in supporting many organizations in Steamboat Springs. She has been involved in Steamboat Springs Arts Council, Strings in the Mountains, Bud Werner Memorial Library and the Tread of Pioneers Museum.

Representatives from those organizations will be at Tuesday's meeting to encourage the council to dedicate the park in her name.

"I know so many people that love the idea," Bennett said.

The group plans to bring the request forward during public comment.

"It needs to be finished," Bennett said. "We need to do this because it is the right thing to do."

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