Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Steamboat Springs The Heritage Park area will not be getting a new ball field anytime soon.
Steamboat Springs City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to not move forward with plans for an artificial-turf field between the east side of Christian Heritage School and the west side of the Heritage Park subdivision.
Instead, council members want to review the possibility of building the field on Steamboat Springs School District property.
City staff recommended the council approve Heritage Park plans for the field, which would have been open to a variety of sports, including lacrosse, soccer, baseball, football and kickball.
"I think it would have valley-wide impact for us," said Chris Wilson, the city's director of parks, open space and recreation.
Several council members said they were concerned about the projected cost of the field. Plans were sent back for staff review Sept. 6, after bids came in higher than the city expected. City officials estimated the cost of building the field would be $250,000; the lowest bid was $492,000.
"The costs of this field and this project are more than we can afford," council President Paul Strong said.
Wilson told the council there never would be a cheaper place or time to construct the field. The cost of materials is increasing, he said, and the land for the project would be available practically for free. The city would have been able to lease the land for $1 a year.
To appease neighbors, city staff also recommended the field should be for local events only. Residents had told staff members that they were concerned about the possibility of the field becoming a Triple Crown facility.
Council member Kathy Conn--ell said she could not support such a condition because it is "discriminatory" and that it is an example of an "emotional reaction to things that really do benefit the sales tax in this community."
Residents of the Heritage Park neighborhood told the council that they were concerned about noise and hours of operation at the proposed field.
But Tom Simmins, president of the Heritage Park Owners Association, said residents who live near the proposed field site were still open to suggestions. "We're not ogres," Simmins said.
A soccer field, he said, would fill a need and would be "a feather in the cap for the community."
Simmins and others clapped after the council voted to look at building the field elsewhere. Council members decided to look into building on school grounds.
School Board President Paula Stephenson sent a letter to the council earlier this month stating that the board would discuss the possibility of building an artificial-turf field with community groups.
If the council does not build the field in west of Steamboat, it may lose grant money. Last year, the city was awarded a $150,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado for the project.