Our View: Giving Howelsen a facelift

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— The city's efforts to upgrade facilities at Howelsen Hill are overdue. We hope the city is willing to go even further in improving this important community asset.

Howelsen is not only a historic ski hill, but also a key recreational component of our downtown area. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, the site features an array of activities including ice skating, ski jumping, hockey, rodeo, hiking, biking, tennis, skateboarding, softball, baseball and horseback riding. It hosts concerts, volleyball tournaments, community meetings and Easter egg hunts.

The problem with Howelsen is it has "developed incrementally, often without the benefit or commitment to a master plan," the city's master plan for Howelsen states. As such, parking and traffic flow can be a challenge. Everything from the rodeo arena to Olympian Hall could use a facelift.

"Over the years, I've seen a lot of little Band-Aids go up, and it's time for surgery," said Jeff Nelson, the city's ski and rodeo supervisor. "It's time for a new knee."

Surgery will begin this fall, when the city undertakes Phase I of improvements at Howelsen. The city will spend $440,000 to replace the night lighting on the Alpine ski side of Howelsen Hill and improve snowmaking capacity. Similar projects are scheduled for Howelsen's Mile Run and Murri Peak areas in 2008 and 2009. Upgrading the hill's lighting is mostly an infrastructure project, but it will allow Howelsen to host larger ski and snowboard races that have more demanding lighting criteria.

While we are glad to see the city getting started, we are more anxious to see some of the bigger projects identified in the master plan, which was written in 1999, updated in 2005 and revised again recently. Among the improvements called for in the plan are expanded skiing and snowboarding terrain; new lifts to the ski terrain and ski jumps; the addition of tubing at Howelsen; an amphitheater at the base of the jump area for ski jumping competitions and concerts; expansion of the Howelsen Hill Lodge and the Dehaven Training Center to include office space, locker rooms and restrooms; parking lot expansion and improvements; a full-service Nordic Center with rentals and lessons; a year-round climbing wall; plastic on more ski jumps for year-round training; expanded biking and hiking trails; and a winter-summer freestyle area.

The master plan also includes possible changes to the rodeo grounds. The biggest change proposed is the addition of a 5,000-seat indoor arena that could be used for rodeos, equestrian competitions and other events. The changes also include putting the Nordic Center at the site of the yurt that serves as the ticket office for the Alpine Slide and moving the horse stables to consolidate them in one location with the horse barns.

We would add to the master plan to include a renovation of the concession area and more restrooms at the site.

Howelsen Hill is a major draw for visitors and locals, and it's good to see the city finally putting some money behind a plan that is almost a decade old. But this is simply a starting point. The city needs to continue such improvements in the coming years.

Comments

another_local 7 years, 4 months ago

If we are going to spend public money to change our rodeo arena we should take a hard look at the whole arena picture. We should look at MOVING the whole rodeo to a site west of town. We lost the horse event that used to come here because our facilities were too small.

Move to a location that can accomodate a larger stable area, more parking, a shuttle turnaround AND an indoor arena.

Free up the current rodeo site for other use.

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steamvent 7 years, 4 months ago

Wait 'til the new owners of all the high zoot residential units being built downtown get a snoot full of manure, experience the flies, crack of the bats and late night hooting of the ball players and lighting in the summer and new daylighting of the night with enhanced ski run lighting in the winter ... then there may be some pressure to move the rodeo grounds. Of course, they will have to deal with the emotional local argument that our heritage is being jerked out of the heart of town. Would health and water quality codes and regulations regarding water run off into a river allow such a facility now? Likely not. The city is bent on regulating effects on water quality well into the countryside around Steamboat ... what about right in town?

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another_local 7 years, 4 months ago

Knowitall, what are you referring to? I am in Glenwood several times a year and I can't tell if you are being serious or sarcastic.

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schnack23 7 years, 4 months ago

I grew up in Steamboat and after leaving realize how family friendly the town is. Glenwood is flooded with non-local traffic; I am not sure if you were being sarcastic as well:.

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Zalobar 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree the present rodeo ground would make a great Rec. Center area. I dont understand why everyone wants to send all things new to the west end of town. How about across hwy 131 from Haymaker?? Traffic is already slow for the turn onto 131, go a few hundred feet and turn right again and Rodeo!!ER Cowboy-up or what ever. The land parcel there is huge and Rodeo is relatively in keeping with agraculture uses. It is a rural area. No one around to be bothered with smells and noise. It is only used twice a week. Much better than west of town.

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ihatestupidpeople 7 years, 4 months ago

how about all you people that cant seem to face the fact that things grow and change with time. welcome to 2007 get used to the building if it was not for that 3/4 of you would not have a job here in steamboat so shut your stinking pot holes and get with it

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