Howelsen, Hot Springs still on table

Split recreation center at sites not yet ruled out



Zach Rosa, 10, rides his skateboard outdoors at the Howelsen Skate Park in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday afternoon. The City Council has not yet ruled out the option of building new facilities at Howelsen Hill and Old Town Hot Springs instead of a consolidated facility at Ski Town Fields.

— City officials might, just might, ask Steamboat Springs voters to approve new recreation facilities at Howelsen Hill and Old Town Hot Springs, despite expressing support last month - and this week - for a consolidated facility at Ski Town Fields.

Tuesday, the Steamboat Springs City Council saw a presentation by recreation consultant Chuck Musgrave of Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture in Denver. At the request of City Manager Alan Lanning, Musgrave presented options for new facilities including a gym, youth center and teen center at Howelsen Hill. Musgrave also presented plans for building aquatic facilities at the Old Town Hot Springs site downtown. He told the City Council that recreation facilities at Howelsen and Old Town Hot Springs would cost about $37 million.

The presentation was somewhat of a step backward for the City Council, which voted, 3-2, July 10 to support Musgrave's recommendation of a $34 million, consolidated recreation center at Ski Town Fields on Pine Grove Road, near The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.

But factors have changed since then, Lanning said.

Chris Wilson, director of the city's Department of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services, presented a master plan for Howelsen Hill last month. The master plan included numerous potential long-term expansions and improvements, such as a new ski slope, tubing hill and weight training facility, all of which could cost about $20 million.

"I wanted to see how that (master) plan tied in with the recreation effort, if we relocated facilities at the base of Howelsen," Lanning said. "I asked (Musgrave) to consider that as part of the equation."

The city hired Musgrave in February to analyze possible sites and costs for new recreation facilities in Steamboat, in preparation for a ballot issue in November.

City Clerk Julie Jordan told the City Council that the ballot must be certified Sept. 7.

On Tuesday, Lanning will present the City Council with two ballot questions - one proposing split recreation facilities for $37 million and the other proposing the consolidated Ski Town center for $34 million.

The City Council has two remaining meetings, Tuesday and Sept. 4, to approve ballot language by a resolution.

"I think the motivation is to do the consolidated center. I just don't know how far back that's going to push the Howelsen master plan," City Council President Susan Dellinger said. "My hope was that there was some way we could integrate the two things : it's a shame that we didn't see the master plan during this whole discussion."

Also Tuesday, members of the public and some City Council members discussed rumors that the pool at Moffat County High School, where Steamboat youths swim competitively, will be closing for good - a development that would spur the need for aquatic facilities at a new recreation center in Steamboat, or at Old Town Hot Springs.

Mike Taylor, facilities manager for the Moffat County School District, flatly denied those rumors Wednesday.

"We will open the pool Nov. 1, when our youth program starts," Taylor said, adding that the pool will be open as scheduled for the duration of youth programs, at least into May 2008.

But Taylor acknowledged that financial and age concerns likely mean the Craig pool could close sooner rather than later.

"It's 26 years old, and there are leaks and things of that nature. The thing costs more than $100,000 to operate, and we have to weigh that," Taylor said. "Somewhere down the line, we're going to have to put more money into this pool, or we're going to have to close it. We're looking at a budget crunch."

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

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Chris Elliott 9 years, 7 months ago

Why didn't the City Council see the master plan? ".. it's a shame that we didn't see the master plan during this whole discussion." Shouldn't the council be aware of the master plan from the beginning? I wonder what else they haven't bothered to look at.


another_local 9 years, 7 months ago

Why don't we give Moffat 50K toward the pool maintainance and save the 35M.

NO more taxes!


beentheredonethat 9 years, 7 months ago

Howelsen Hill parkway and River Road should remain in play for possible traffic diversion around Steamboat Springs. Building more infrastructure will take this option off the table and there are few other options to relieve the traffic problem entering town from the east. NO MORE NEW CONSTRUCTION UNTIL THIS TOWN TACKLES THE TRAFFIC PROBLEM. How long will it take for the community to wake up City Council to this dilemma?


rodcarew 9 years, 7 months ago

I think you're right beentheredonethat about looking at the traffic diversion options for Howelsen, however, I think it needs to avoid River Road/Brooklyn and be diverted on either end of downtown and the road should be decked as it passes through Howelsen to avoid major impacts to the recreation facility. Yes, this will be a huge cost, so maybe it should become our new number one priority. Certainly, it should be done prior to building another recreation facility. The bypass discussion needs to be resurrected and discussed again.


katrinkakelly 9 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for the clarification on the council member/Old Town Hot Springs employee!

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize the best option for the money and the kids.


trollunderthebridge 9 years, 7 months ago

They don't need to read the master plan or any document for that matter. They just rely on the whining of a few and react not act.


honestythebestpolicy 9 years, 7 months ago

It is unfortunate that neither City Council nor the citizens of Steamboat Springs were made privy to the Howelsen Hill Master Plan prior to making a decision on where best to put a recreation center. How could that be when Chris Wilson, director of the city's Department of Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services who presented the master plan for Howelsen Hill last month has also directed the recreation center studies on behalf of two consultant teams since at least 2005? Hard to believe that the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing when they belong to the same person. The same Chris Wilson that leaked a story to the Pilot that culminated in the July 10th front page headline "Committee recommends recreation facility with pools" when that City Council appointed Committee had not, in fact, endorsed that or any solution?

Ballard King who did the first recreation center study was not even directed to consider a recreation center at Howelsen Hill and having the latest consultant team look at a Howelsen Hill option was only by public demand (Robert Ralston: Think long-range December 3, 2006). That this latest recreation study led by Chris Wilson did not even consider other master plans being carried out concurrently at other sports facilities simply shows the manipulative tactics that have been taken to get something built that is remote and unto itself to the benefit of those in the position of running such a facility without question or having to share "turf". Is that ultimately to the benefit of the community?

Watch the dollar signs in the months ahead. These same people are now claiming that there may be no taxes needed to fund a recreation center and that after it is built that it will cost each family only $450.00/year to join and the remainder of the operating costs will be subsidized by the city. Without taxation? None of these scenarios are the case in any other recreation center in the country and the one in Gypsum costs $850.00/year/family for about the same or less amenities.


ihatestupidpeople 9 years, 7 months ago

take care of the darn traffic it is outta control 45 mins from the east end to the west end. it would also help if they put a gravel pit in on the east side of steamboat so that every time the trucks have to go to the pit they dont have to go through town.


Vince arroyo 9 years, 7 months ago

Rec Center. Hey just look around people recreational activities abound. parents be responsible. Survey on traffic, it looks like the local people are driving around, making several trips during the day lets all be responsible for our selves.


WZ007 9 years, 7 months ago

Rec center Wild West Hold Up! Folks we are being fleeced in a politically traditional and unscrupulous way. Underhanded plans are afoot as follows: - Parks and Recs management on the supposed Rec center citizens committee conflict of interest: the bigger we build it the greater our domain! - Parks and Recs department make City Council agree to put Rec center on ballot even though the City Council appointed committee has not yet advised circumventing public government! - City Manager has plans to put Rec center under the cost radar by not requiring a vote on the cost so we will pay tons more in some other new taxes! - WAKE UP, SPEAK UP and shut down this huge rip off of residents by the few for the few; by City Departments for themselves!!! Original price was around $12 million now it is going north of $30 million.


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